Christina A. Sharik

OFF TO WAR…

The hardest thing I’ve ever done
is watch the back of you, my son
as you walked away from me that day
and you’ve never been home,
in quite the same way.

If I were a mother in the Civil War
I wouldn’t wonder what you went for ~
I’d send you off proudly with pack, and sash ~
watch you ride off in a galloping flash
Thinking you’d be home in a month or two;
But I would pine, and pray for you.

If I were your mother in the First World War
I’d wonder what you were going for
I’d send you off with a smile like the sun
and hope you never faced a German gun.

If I were your mother in World War II
I’d have a star in my window, just for you
and I’d write letters of home and weather
and your dad and I would wait, together.

If I were your mother in the Korean War
God, I’d be afraid! What were you in for;
in frozen mud and battered trees
are you hungry, my dear?
Do you have what you need?

If you had gone to Vietnam
I would be a proud but worried mom
I’d send brownies and cherry Kool-Aid
and cry myself to sleep after I’d prayed.

If you’d served in the first Gulf War
I’d send you baby-wipes,
with a strange new fear
and hope you’d be home within the year.
I’d mail you letters and photos, too
and pray that I’d soon hear from you.

You went you to Somalia, I cried for you
I prayed, I wrote, I sighed for you –
and you came home and were all right
I cried again, all that night.

When you went to Bosnia and slept in snow
I didn’t wonder why you had to go
I sent you off with a wish and a prayer
and you made it home, and out of there.

If I had to send you to this second Gulf War
I’d send you off and be so tired
I’ve watched you come and go, and now I’m mired
in the motions of sending a son to war
I’m tired and sad; I can’t stand much more.

I know you wish you were in Iraq
but you might never be coming back
and I don’t know if I could stand the pain
of watching you leave, yet again.