The Yellow Ribbon for Kendall 43 E 18

When my brother died
I praised
the war he occupied.

We did not know
that we would win
or lose; our land
divided as our hopes.

And, though I, with
our soldiers past
took on the soldiers
mind, my voice became
the praise of war:

in the shadows
stood the dogs
of terror
for the loss
that was to come.

We thought we praised
war because war
is to be praised
and victory is good.

But behind the praise
was the fear which
altered praise and
became for Kendall
a prayer for safety.

The flag I wave is my
support for you: oh,
guard and keep you
from the death that comes!

Those who burnt that flag
prayed the same prayer
to guard and keep the peace.

That twin prayer is with us
now. It is with the man who
bravely says: ‘I’m here to do a job;’
with the woman who leaves
her children to weep
and fly engines of war;
and with the priest who
leads a liturgy for those
who chant, ‘No blood for oil!’

Both prayers are tied
with the same ribbon

that cries out for the care
of my lost brother
our brothers and sisters
our children now.

War is sorrow
because who we kill
are family too.

War is sorrow
winning and loss
is one act.

So let us not
celebrate victory
if victory comes

(how can we rejoice
in the slaughter of kin?)

but attend it

as funeral

and praise our enemies
and mourn ourselves
with parades tied
with bright ribbons
and the apples of grief

for the prayers
for safekeeping,
for the healing
of the terror
we have made.

Steven Fortney

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