It was another war, of course,
not this one — or two, or four.
Amid the ruins, flowers began to grow,
grey, on spindly stems,
with pale mauve streaks on their leaves
and the merest hints of green.
In a dense, almost fog-like mist
borne by gentle streams of air,
illusions ran rampant,
optimistic visions that tricked the heart.
Nothing to buy, nothing to sell,
little to eat as yet.
save shuffling footsteps.
Hallucinations, hollow pain.
with the strength to stroll along
walked by, ignoring the weather,
a woman clutching the arm of a cloud,
instead of the arm of a man.
A soldier in tatters guarded a station
where trains no longer stopped.
They will come once more,
he will be there on the job,
but for now, no one acknowledges him.
Another soldier, in khaki, wearing a helmet,
leaned against the remains of a tree.
He held in his hand, as if expecting someone
a bouquet of rain.
Sharon Bourke is a poet, painter and printmaker of African-American heritage. She was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1929, and is still active in all of her artistic pursuits. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry magazine and numerous anthologies including Understanding the New Black Poetry, Celebrations, Children of Promise, Songs of Seasoned Women, Long Island Sounds, Toward Forgiveness, Temba Tupu: Africana Women’s Poetic Self-Portrait, and Whispers and Shouts. She is a member of the East End Arts Council and the Long Island Black Artists Association, and was former president of The Graphic Eye Gallery (Port Washington, NY). http://sharonbgallery.net