When the War is Over
Finally the battle sounds ceased
————–smoke hovered in uneasy amity.
A clutter, clamor stirred about in the kitchen
————–silence prevailed otherwise.
Tiny children grew curious first,
————–hungry to find if it was okay to be outside.
Taking cautious steps,
————–they each tiptoed out into the new era of peace.
Holding heavy breaths,
————–they watched them each appear under the deep fog like the risen dead
Their weary eyes began searching,
————–desperately into the looming darkness before them…
Each face seemed scarred and barren of soul,
————–the war had obliged that they atone.
For in their eyes held journeys both long and dreadful,
————–but there was relief in heading home.
One in particular hadn’t far to go,
————–for his house lay were the battles rose.
“Look” the youngest whispered,
————–and pointed to a figure sauntering towards their road.
The family stared in fear without blinking,
————–watching the figure limp on closer.
Suddenly he was near them,
————–rendered unfamiliar by the warfare.
“Who are you?” the eldest demanded,
————–the soldier paused, awaiting recognition.
Then he removed his dusty cover,
————–dropping his arms in desperation.
The mother choked back a sob as she recognized,
————–but the children abstained, scenting danger
“I’m your father.” His voice creaked
————–that of a stranger.
Years ago I had this dream where I was some figure sauntering around in a foggy field. I was limping and felt sore all over and I couldn’t quite figure out where I was going, but I knew to keep going. And then I found a house, where several children came out all looking concerned. Until the oldest one recognized me somehow and ran out to assist me.
That dream manifested this poem, where I picture it like a drop in scene we are coming in to witness. Here we come to see a tattered old farmhouse and we move in closer to the inside where a mother is moving about the kitchen. They have lived in fear, being close to the front line of battle, but for some reason had no fled and instead continued on with sheltered lives. So when the sounds of war have stopped coming from nearby, the children become instantly curious -they have been restless and want to see if they can go outside. The father is missing so far from this scene. Then we see the children begin to funnel out just barely beyond their front door, glancing around but unable to see through the build of fog across the open prairie. Finally they see figures emerging from the fog, which are soldiers leaving the battlefield. They are all scarred, wounded, and almost catatonic with their silent stares -not entirely sure of how to walk away from the scene they were just at, but still moving away from it. One in particular is coming towards the house. The children do not know him, the mother comes out, and together they watch him get closer. This man has been broken by battle and is not at all familiar to them. He removes a cap he is wearing (assuming part of some uniform) in attempt to bring some recognition. While the mother sees it first and realizes it is their father, the children do not. So out of desperation he identifies himself, but they do not even recognize his voice.