The uneasiness of likelihood
a thousand days of passionlessness
and where the nerves were, wax
pliably plugged up the passageways.
When help arrived the donkey brayed.
Our myths were stunned sinking
ropes thrown in the swamp to rescue
the dragon a dozen plus one until
help arrives as deepening striving.
Short memories fighting with forgetting
heading into cycle of bravado
help arriving at the tip of a bayonet.
Weapons brandished in the name of order
ten thousand on each side
privates in a rant with officers
corporals in the mouths of generals
no bad rhetoric untried.
The school burned spread to the library
the hours required to put out the fire
a hundred for every hand lent
the damage was dumb and unforgiving
millions of words unspent because
help arrived but squandered time.
Having no books children were taken
in conscription with no one’s permission
in the army without even knowing
they cannot fight without help
when help arrives it eats them.
The noise of shells the cold of wet
where is regret when it is needed?
Help arrives and is turned back.
Trenches full of tins of meat
troops shot food instead of eating
hogtied by starved pride
indistinguishable from the enemy.
Was this help in a disguise?
Help arrived finally in the form
of a repeatingly violent storm
of frogs falling from the skies
arguing like young politicians
piling up like paraphrases.
And the dragon whose body
had lain unperceived in mud
since grandfathers’ troubled days
rose untied unbleeding unslept
longer than any of us imagined
more motherly than
the fathers feared.
Help arrived like a swollen heart
like a faithful dog off its chain
and arriving help sent us home
empty of memory or blame.