The wall is black granite,
highly polished be an unseen hand
and the fingers of countless thousands
present but each unseen by the others.
At first glance you want to count
the names, but you lack fingers
enough for the task and others
are quickly withdrawn as are their eyes.
You know where the names are,
Willy, who they now call William,
Little Joey, who was so large in your
memory, climbing into the cockpit.
You wonder if things had been different,
if you hadn’t enlisted, chosen
the Air Force, if the Draft Board
anointed you cannon fodder, who
would trace their fingers along
the cold unfeeling stone that has
been washed by untold tears bidding
you farewell or thanks, rarely both.
We have grown so good at wars
we no longer need etched walls,
bronze statues, for before a design
is complete, the next must be begun.
First published in The Parliament Literary Magazine – Issue 5- Masks and Manes