rock me mama

And if I die in Raleigh, at least I will die free. – Darius Rucker

She had no choice.
Something inside of her took over.

She knew they were going,
knew it was their time.
And they descended
into the space with her.
Tell me what your wife
would say to you . . .

And she said that.
Over and over.
So many times.
Until she did not
need to ask anymore.
As the air hung thick
with death and pain.

She crawled in beside them
on the cot
the wood plank
the ground.
If she were to be their wife,
she would Be.
Body and Soul.
In those final moments
they were not alone.

But she was.

Left standing
as bodies
were carried away.

Left standing
as men
walked home.

Each hand
on the other elbow.
Heavy cotton,
the only thing
holding her in.
Enshrouding her.
She watched them go.

This gift.
Her care
was a hard worked skill.
But this gift – to help men die
of their soul –
it seeped into her
like smoke from their guns.
These men.

These men.
Carried now too,
inside the heavy cotton.
Hearts. Heartache.
The rough of their hands
as life let go.
Last tear on her neck
cleansing the caked sweat
of her labour.

She lay – final now –
in an open field.
The war was over.
So many hearts
overflowing hers.
Cracked open.

Blue sky.
White clouds.
Silence.
She broke.

She asks me
to tell you.
She asks to be known.
And so I take her rough hand
calloused from cotton
from bandages
from repetition.
I ask her
What would
the soldiers say to you . . .

And she releases.

Dress
rips open.
Heart soars.
All of the soldiers
carry her over.

Wife of our soul.

[image: The Helga Pictures by Andrew Wyeth]

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