For War and Water

by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

Everyone is having boys, my mother says.
That means war is coming. The way 
it came in the old country—boys 
rising out of the ice and cold 
potato fields, boys laying bricks 
and digging, wells and trenches
and bodies—boys out of other boys 
like my boy, born the year before 
cops killed even more black boys
and more boys killed other boys 
for loving boys and more 
swastikas showed up on walls 
and more walls went up, invisible, where 
once ran rivers. But a river 
is not a boy. A river can either 
run dry or bleed and everyone 
will blame someone 
darker or an animal, that gorilla 
who dragged away the little boy
or the gator who stole another. 
But in the water, they seem 
so strong, resilient even, these boys 
born months apart, these boys 
who suck the water down, who beat it 
with their tiny fists and kick as though 
they’re running, these boys who grow 
not knowing they were born for war 
and that it’s everywhere 
and there is no 
outrunning water.  
This poem previously appeared Poetry International 25/26

back to University & College Poetry Prizes