The war was all over my hands. I held the war and I watched them die in high-definition. I could watch anyone die, but I looked away. Still, I wore the war on my back. I put it on every morning. I walked the dogs and they too wore the war. The sky overhead was clear or it was cloudy or it rained or it snowed, and I was rarely afraid of what would fall from it. I worried about what to do with my car, or how much I could send my great-aunt this month and the next. I ate my hamburger, I ate my pizza, I ate a salad or lentil soup, and this too was the war. At times I was able to forget that I was on the wrong side of the war, my money and my typing and sleeping sound at night. I never learned how to get free. I never learned how not to have anyone’s blood on my own soft hands.
I am taken with the hot animal
of my skin, grateful to swing my limbs
and have them move as I intend, though
my knee, though my shoulder, though something
is torn or tearing. Today, a dozen squid, dead
on the harbor beach: one mostly buried,
one with skin empty as a shell and hollow
feeling, and, though the tentacles look soft,
I do not touch them. I imagine they
were startled to find themselves in the sun.
I imagine the tide simply went out
without them. I imagine they cannot
feel the black flies charting the raised hills
of their eyes. I write my name in the sand:
Donika Kelly. I watch eighteen seagulls
skim the sandbar and lift low in the sky.
I pick up a pebble that looks like a green egg.
To the ditch lily I say I am in love.
To the Jeep parked haphazardly on the narrow
street I am in love. To the roses, white
petals rimmed brown, to the yellow lined
pavement, to the house trimmed in gold I am
in love. I shout with the rough calculus
of walking. Just let me find my way back,
let me move like a tide come in.