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Summer
2008

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Arlington West
Tim Kahl

The voice of the grid of crosses urges the waves
to undulate sorrow. An amateur, like me,
observes the sand raked between this week’s
coffins and concludes that care makes the soldier.
 
I stopped my forced gaze short of the instant of
truly caring, almost there. The quality of my remorse
is not the same as a man who volunteers
for duty, who lights the fields of candles at night
and returns after the ocean breeze extinguishes them.
 
I visit by accident, a negligent rememberer
before these boneless graves. I can afford a memory
but profit more from turning to numb silence.
I hear the voice in the days ahead,
the sound of the ocean when it decides to mourn.
 
The crab claws I find nearby are cleaned—
cherished pendants for my two boys. We beat back
the waves, skipping stones, but the waves easily
break through with their provocative murmur.
 
We do what the ocean says. I breathe my ways
to mark the unnamed dead in war.
My two boys take their new crab claws to bed.