Before you leave, your mother
gives you a picture of Christ
to sleep with – a loose tooth
under your pillow.
Who has space
to dream of other, possible lives?
Some days, cigarettes in the dark
are fireflies; artillery shells
You know a little music.
Good for when it gets too quiet.
Half a world away they are waiting
for the small crucifixes of your lips;
you do not know how else
to translate love, the act of missing.
They ask when you’ll return.
You watch the moon trace itself
badly into the sky,
palm it with one outstretched hand.
Years from now, a child will learn
names, places, dates, the deeds
of men who stained the earth. But not
he played the harmonica rather badly
and spoke longingly of home.