£1000 in prizes in our War Poetry for Today competition

Aria By Michelle Bonczek


I am reading this to you from a stage,

from a bathtub full of mineral salt, from a canoe


lost in the Pacific like a paperclip

holding a death certificate. I am reading this from a drop


of water, a sand speck sunk

to the bottom, a little island dome.


We are on Jupiter’s smallest moon, in a poppy,

in a bean field.  We are sunflowers and a herd of cows. 


This is a field of vision. It grew long before me, before

you. Before I walked for the last time


to the rail of my grandfather’s bed, away

for the first time from the rail of my daughter’s crib.


I am reading this like it is the last thing I will read.

I am reading this like it is the only thing you will hear.


Light through paper before the smoke, four lives

in a four-wheel truck on a Baghdad roadside.


You can smell the metal, the sap, the blood. 

You can hear my voice saying your son.


I am reading this to you under a veil in Sudan,

as we lay beside one another on the shores of Normandy,


from behind the crosshairs of a gun, from a corner, blind-

folded, hands bound.


Words are rising to a sky over Moscow, Krakow,

Tacrit, New York, Hiroshima, Berlin. Sounds are moving


like waves toward Japan. I am holding this page

like a scroll, untying the string. I am folding my words


into an airplane, into a passenger pigeon. I am reading loudly,

softly, silently to myself. I am singing


from the hospital where your grandfather met

your grandmother, from the dance floor where your mother met


your father, from the corner where you will meet me. 

You are holding the hand of someone


you do not remember, whose tongue catches

snow under clouds full of planes, full of men full of light.


I am reading you wind

through which these bodies will fall. I am the net


on which they will land. Here are their eyes, their feet,

their blood. Here are their voices. Open your hands.




More information about Michelle Bonczek Evory may be found at www.thepoetsbillow.org


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