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— for Karl Mullen
All the love in the world is sleeping, a deep, deep sleep so it can’t hear the children crying, or their mothers. The fathers are deaf with detonations; they can’t hear love’s breath in and out, in and out, deep within the dream of itself. Where has love gone? they cry, bitter coffee in the kitchen, hoping love will rise once rested from the sleepless battles that keep boys awake till they are old men; keep them ready to kill for god and country, the right to fight for what they love. Wake up love, please. Love sleeps nude and unashamed, a glass of water near to quell the fires we mistake for love, a blanket to wrap the broken who come to her bed alone. Those who come together, too, are welcome. Love’s bed is big — bigger than war. On love’s bed stand is a book, a love poem the heartless cannot read — It was written by a woman and a man, and a woman and a woman, and a man and a man, and the ending is beautiful. Wake up love, please. It is still dark when love rises to the rattle of bombs and money, her body revived and lithe in the shrapnel, her stretch like the sun’s rays weary of shining light on the ugly, but roused nonetheless to the divinity of bodies, hands, lips. Love bids her lovers farewell, kissing forehead after forehead, stepping naked into the street, her only weapon, the hearts of the children — the mothers and fathers — beating louder than the guns/money/rage/shame/hate, waking her, again and again, like a prayer, like a song, like a song, like a prayer: Wake up. Wake up, love. Wake up love, please.
Leslie Anne Mcilroy’s books include Slag (Main Street Rag, 2014). She lives and works in Pittsburgh.
Copyright 2021 Leslie Anne Mcilroy