Before the War

Katrina Kaye

In the holy years of childhood,
we dressed in common uniform,
but spied only on each other.
Innocent games where you hid
and I sought you out.

I woke early to creep into unkempt yard
to feel the dew from long billowing grass
across my eight year old calves
and share the silence of morning.

In the hollow nights before the air raids,
I painted your portrait
using the light of the moon
and branches from a tree
too old to climb.

I prayed on only the consistency
of your pose as you looked beyond me.

When the August sun scorched the earth
we puzzled in the cool of basements,
making pieces wedge together
if we held them just right.

You hummed me a song
about starvation
that came to you in a dream.
Using your mother’s silver spoons
and the warped lid of a tin trash can,
I beat out a hunger
to be more than just alone.

It was the summer
of our childhood,
welded in innocence
and recklessness,
before the shatter.

Before the earth quaked with
the roar of metal beasts,
shaking leaves from trees
and scattering sparrows,
frightening us to our nests.

Before the sirens
shrieked their song of anguish
and sorrow into our ears,
leaving us blind and crippled,
groping for the
touch of a kind hand.

“Before the War” is previously published in The Fall of a Sparrow (2014).

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