Words are loyal.
Whatever they name they take the side of.
As the word courage will afterward grip just as well
the frightened girl soldier who stands on one side of barbed wire,
the frightened boy soldier who stands on the other.
Death’s clay, they look at each other with wide-open eyes.
And words—that love peace, love gossip—refuse to condemn them.
from Ledger (Knopf, 2020); first appeared in Plume. Used by permission of the author, all rights reserved.