While reading Michael Miller’s Darkening the Grass, I was as moved by the poems that he calls “life-affirming,” his lovely meditations of nature and the passing of life, as by his war poems.
I especially loved the last lines of the poem, “LIEUTENANT DEMPSEY,” his poem that addresses an inability to leave the military experience behind.
He looks at his sleeping wife,
Her softness a cushion for the breeze
Coming through their window.
There is no rifle beside their bed,
A sniper is not on the next roof,
No bomb has been planted
In the road outside their house.
The view from their window
Offers no women in tangerine robes,
No merchants taking goods to a market.
He is not in Iraq,
He is waking in New Hampshire.
Now rise, lieutenant,
Pretend you have left it behind,
Pretend it will not affect
How you live this day,
That the call of the blue jay
Perched on a pine branch
Will not remind you
Of an incoming mortar
Before it explodes.