May 28, 2012 - Writer's Life    Comments Off on Letter to Michelle: A Peace Poem for Memorial Day

Letter to Michelle: A Peace Poem for Memorial Day

Dear Michelle,

While everybody is busy complaining to your husband about the economy and the election, I thought I’d send this letter to you. I was sitting in church Sunday trying to pay attention but my mind kept wandering to the Peace Open Mic later that night, and I’m thinking, “Really, what’s left to say?” We’re all so disappointed with the way things are going, you know, war-wise particularly. I’m not one to place blame; after all, there I was in church supposed to be focused on the body and the blood but it was all the bodies and all the blood I kept seeing behind my closed eyes. Don’t ask me if this was inspired by the Christ–I don’t know for sure. It’s all a mystery to me. But I started writing this letter then from the stark middle of those images and I thought maybe it was time to appeal to you; a little woman-to-woman, hoping you might listen if I could get the words right, make my plea clear, take us both somewhere we haven’t been before. I was so taken with this idea, this letter to you, that I didn’t make it home but pulled into the first coffee shop I came to, dug around my bag until I came up with a pen and a teensy pad of paper that would hardly hold a paragraph of mine so I had to write really, really small. I ordered coffee and sat down to get started but happened to sit right in front of an art photo hanging on the wall. As a veteran, it caught my eye then held my attention. It was a field full of American flags, big ones, full-sized, billowing in a breeze and I knew then this letter just had to be. The photo is titled “Valor, Innocence, and Justice” and was taken by Ellen Gregory of Farmington, Arkansas. It was simply hanging there with those red, white and blue words, “Valor” and “Justice” but it was the “Innocence” that got to me. Please know, I write this in all innocence; a patriot, a flag billowing in your direction. It seems I digress, but I believe in synchronicity and all the signs were right for this letter to you. I should probably start over after this lengthy prologue. The letter which became a poem is not really all that long.

Dear Michelle,

The next time you lay down with your husband and for a moment

he is just a man, your man, the man you love more than anything–

put your arm around him, pull him close,

your breasts against his chest

and think…peace.

Wordless, let your hands and body say

with all the love you feel inside

that thousands are counting on him to save their lives.

Remind him he is a mother’s son,

your husband and your lover,

father to your daughters. No words now–

stroke his head, his hair short and graying

with the pressure of too much power,

and remind him that other mothers, wives and daughters

love their men

the way that you love him.

Place the palm of your hand over his beating heart

and try to imagine life without him–

gone to war, to kill the “enemy,” some other mother’s son.

Imagine him coming home estranged or crazy or in a flag-draped box.

Remind him this Memorial Day there will be

such flag wrapped packages

delivered to mothers, wives, and daughters

when the doorbell rings

and they were expecting UPS or FedEx,

but it’s a captain and a chaplain.

Woman to woman, I’m asking on behalf of all women here,

in Afghanistan, in Iraq, everywhere–to let him know by loving him

that we don’t want this anymore.

Show him you’ll do anything,

anything–one long romantic, rose-filled, red wine, candle-lit, well…

you know the rest…anything for him,

if every mother’s son or daughter

could just come home for this evening’s fried chicken,

and homemade ice cream.

Michelle, my last good hope,

clasp his hand, embrace his body, entwine your legs with his,

and hold him tight, tight.

Let your heart drum out this simple word;

for you, for him, for all of us…”peace.”

Whisper to him in his sleep,

“Peace, my beloved. Let there be peace.”

You know hearts speak louder than words.

Let peace be in your every breath,

in your laughter and your love until he hears it,

until he gets it loud and clear,

wakes up with it engraved upon his heart,

and thinking he has had a great idea,

says, “Peace. Why not?!”

I’m writing you because I need this hope;

the belief that things can change, wars can end.

And I know women are the arbiters of change.

Thanks for reading this, Michelle.

I know you must be busy.

I mean no disrespect.

Poets go where their minds lead them,

even beneath the comforter

with the President and First Lady.

We can’t help ourselves.

We still believe in dreams and visions.

Foolhardy we follow

the wanderings of our imaginations anywhere they take us,

searching for hope, looking for peace.

I’m just doing my job.

Will you  consider what I’ve asked you here?

Because I have every faith in you.


From a poet and one of your admirers…

(photo from donkey dish .com)

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