To Forgive

You from the hollows and hills,
motor cities, steel cities,
pork barrel cotton king broadloom oil boom
ocean port holy coal towns,
yoked the turncoat dragon
and it came
only at your call
over and over,
licking our moon-cheeked babies with
orange tongues of black fire -
jet-haired girls,
old-enough-to-kill-you boys,
mama-sans and papa-sans
stopped breathing
as the war hoarsely clattered
over and over and out -
just went about their days
waiting
to burn.

Still, you from the hollows
and hills, sea to shining sea,
and we
have floated
in the same golden plasma moments
when time stops
and green leaf cheeks
puff up with dusk air,
almost to sigh
with the sun
on its final tilt up
for a last, long cast of light
to net us, twilight fishes
pulled into the deep shadow
for another night
of dreaming
the same cracked tea cup dreams
under left-over French,
white-gaitered shade trees
in Saigon
and out along the canals
with palm-trees flocking
as birds on stilt legs, full-fanned
plume tails and no heads
around elephant-colored tombs
set about with new rice.

Constance Lee Menefee
Copyright 2000