|It was towards the end of May, I think
when two hundred of our tired feet
stopped at the cemetery.
You could still make out a Monument, a Pool, a House
that looked new by comparison
and some photo of George Bush somewhere
but half our chaperones were happy he was about to get out.
the whole place didn’t smell like its own rocks and sod
just like the battles in your books would
like far too much spilled rot and blood.
Which is what it was.
We scattered, wandered, chatted
raring to go after that big shrimp dinner an hour ago and
faceless stones in never-ending rows
caught some of our eyes. Some.
SOLDIER PRESIDENT AMBASSADOR PILOT PEACEMAKER HERO they said.
People, victims, underneath in droves
hadn’t caught anything.
They had faces. All of them.
When we left in our Nikes and Hollister T-shirts
and got back to the hotel
I probably took a few deep breaths and shut my eyes.
All that reached my ears was
how great the new sunglasses were
how funny it was when that one guy tripped
what a bummer it was that those girls from Totowa weren’t coming ‘til later
and a soft, sad “How could they not…” from one of the class advisors
as a whiff of rot and blood came back.