We Regret to Inform
You do it with love, even if you think war is stupid.
—Janice Mann, sewing name tags on uniforms for soldiers headed
to the Mideast from Fort Stewart, Georgia, New York Times
Padilla, Spooner, Pratt:
These three I set to walking with their guns
and gear across a bridge and into a town
with snipers whom I render blind.
No harm can come to Reynolds.
Because it’s after noon,
because I’ve laid
white thread beside a hanging ivy,
no harm can come to Overkamp or Silva.
For Switzky bombs are harmless.
And for Rosenthal and Pierce, Namick and Davis,
approaching bullets disappear, and Ingram
and Beam walk with invisible shields.
Long ago, before there was anything,
there was nothing, except that everyone was always
on their way, and there would always be
a Jardin and Silverio, always a Greenblatt,
a Fletcher, and a Beinecke;
there would always be a Zacharias, Uno,
and Jaffe, and never not
a Framstad, a Morris, or a Thayer.
Which is not nothing but something.
If there was nothing first, then second
came absence and with absence sadness:
no Fahnstocks, Gaylords, Doerings, or Sidos,
but that would be fixed and finished with.
Often after work I think of them again.
Often at night I think of them as boys
and nameless, climbing off a tractor,
pouring milk, explaining, peeing,
sleeping, snaggletoothed, pudgy
and whey-faced, brilliant, knock-kneed,
flushed, nervous-laughing, unaccompanied
and acned, handsome and peevish.
No, nothing can touch my Giesen.
No harm can come to Wayfield.
This evening the moon rests
over the trees ironical and sad and still.
I hold my needle in the light for luck.
My Glickstien is charmed,
my Baya blessed.
Mark Kraushaar has published work in Beloit Poetry Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Kansas Quarterly, Poetry Northwest, Shenandoah, Texas Review, and others. He was recently anthologized in Visiting Walt: Poems Inspired by the Life & Work of Walt Whitman (University of Iowa Press).
“We Regret to Inform ” appears in our Summer 2004 issue.