Gilda Morina Syverson wrote these poems and others about the loss of her husband’s nephew in the war in Iraq that came about after 9/11. Syverson’s award-winning poems have been published in various literary journals and magazines in the U.S. and Canada. These poems will appear in her full-length poetry book Facing The Dragon, to be published in 2012 by Main Street Rag. Her chapbook, In This Dream Everything Remains Inside, was also published by Main Street Rag. Syverson was one of five finalists in the 2010 Novello Literary Award for her memoir Finding Bottom, an Italian-American woman’s journey to the old country. She lives in Cornelius. Visit her website, www.gildasyverson.net.
FOUR YEARS LATER, IT’S A DEEPER SAD
The memorial wall, Virginia Military Institute, our nephew’s
plaque flanks the right of the open stairway. On the left
another tablet, his classmate. Two killed in the war in Iraq
honored during their 15th college reunion. The chaplain
marches down the flight of steps dressed in formal uniform,
covered in medals and honors. He wears the green beret.
Members of the class gather, some stand in shade,
others in the bright light of this October Sunday.
There are children. But our nephew’s are not present
to listen as the chaplain calls their father’s name
or hear Taps played by a young cadet behind the wall
overhead. Wind carries the sound.
My brother-in-law’s shoulders slump, head hangs,
hands clasped in front of him. His wife’s face grimaces,
tears flow, heart pounds visibly in the cavity of her chest.
Red hair rests against the strong arm of their son’s roommate.
I cling close to my husband’s side. His nephew, the only
living heir, except for those two children none of us see.
Their blonde hair reminds me of baby pictures stored
in my attic of my husband and his brother. Mementos.
Where will they go when we’re gone and my in-laws
are dead, too? They’ve aged these four years, faces drained
as if they’ve cried the 52 months after receiving the news,
their only child bombed in Balad. Where do we go from here?
Up the stairwell, hugging the wall to the road leading out?
Or do we stand and wait for the sun to cast a shadow
in the direction where we must walk?
AT THE WELL OF MERCY RETREAT HOUSE
My heart drumming,
I awake in fear,
jump up, try to escape
the massacre in my dream.
Men and women bound by rope
lean against each other
in the center of a primitive village.
Before a beige background,
broken, bleeding bodies
blend into one twisted form.
Behind the bloody figures
white misty shapes arise.
The murdered or the murderer.
Which am I?
(These poems are previously unpublished)