Letter To Sophia

Even before the wind had shifted
and the stench of flesh on fire peeled sweat from walls,
I should have known

from the whistling in my ears
the resonant whack of cracking spines
bodies rotting in the road.

I should have hocked my gun, torched my fatigues,
joined your neighbors for the long march.
Instead, and I tell you this with chalk in my mouth,

I drank with the rest, took my turn in the teenage girls,
forced the sons to do dog to their mothers, yes
all this I did and more.

I should have known, when my beard turned white,
when men were forced to bite the balls from their brothers
when I prayed for rain to wash semen, shit and tears to the sea,

you would never take me as I was, never kiss my eyelids with your
tongue as you did, never slip your cool hands under my shirt, press
your cheek against my naked back, never again trust me to be clean.