James Cervantes

Theater of War


The tear that emerged from the corner of my right eye

was involuntary, automatic when the vet assistant


handed a limp bag to a lady with curly white hair,

saying, “She’s still warm.” Probably still warm also


those bodies in a ditch at Hamid Karzai International Airport,

though unaccompanied by a tear from my right eye.


No tears either over dark clothed bodies in the ruins

of Mariupol, its rubble a photojournalist noticed


at both edges of the frame, and the cloud above

which was not a cloud, but smoke over a lawn of death.


A pang, finally, when a pregnant woman is carried

across more rubble on a litter, a slice of her naked belly


visible as blanket and clothing slipped in hurried steps

toward a birth much like a flash of light and ball of fire.