|Download PDF of this full issue: v33n1.pdf (14 MB)|
Home Before Morning: For Lynda Van Devanter (1947-2002)
By W.D. Ehrhart
If life were fair, you'd be a millionaire,
ambassador to somewhere really cool
like New Orleans, Tahiti, or the Ritz,
maybe the empress of everything —
not some female Job for all the world
Almighty God just seemed to have it
in for: pass one test of faith and here's
another. And another. Yet one more.
Suffer, suffer, die. Okay, we both
learned far too young that nothing's fair in life,
that's just the way it is, there's no use
whining. And you never did complain.
Not when your lungs were so congested
that you couldn't hold a conversation.
Not when your legs swelled up so badly
that you couldn't walk a hundred feet.
Not when your joints began to fail. And then
your kidneys, too. And all the while you just
kept hoping, struggling to go on another
day, another month, another year
with Tom and Molly, with your husband
and your daughter. How you loved them fiercely
with the burden of the knowledge of those
far too many broken boys you had to fix
and couldn't, boys too young to have the chance
to demonstrate against the war that killed them,
to be an alcoholic, to get sober,
to be an advocate for broken souls,
a witness to the worst and best we are,
to marry, make a child, write a book,
call me late at night to say you're frightened
and you need to hear another voice who's
frightened by the posturing of presidents
and statesmen who have never hear the sound
of teenaged soldiers crying for their mothers.
Great-hearted woman, may the broken boys
you tried to fix and couldn't, find you now
and guide you safely home before morning.
— W.D. Ehrhart