Before we are born, everything is open.
Before conception, everything is possible.
After that, all the highways narrow
approaching birth's event horizon.
You hear so much pseudo-redneck music
through the speaker of the belly wall
that you fetal-dream a world of Chopin.
Mama doesn't drink or smoke, but
she swears like a veteran sailor,
so you're ambivalent about taverns.
Does the list need to be continued?
After birth, the open doors of Life
begin to close with a slam in the wind
of other people speaking for you.
Someone in a white coat spots your dick,
so the world thinks you're gendered male,
which leads to you dressed in blue
and ends in a bang on a Baghdad street
that you don't hear before it hits you,
so that everything you thought free will
is seen as an act wrapped in Kismet.
She writes on the pocked wall,
next to the splintered door,
a sliver of concrete for chalk.
It saves the search parties time
in the wake of the night's bombing,
serves as a message for neighbors
who don't have a wall to write on.
We're alive means you're welcome.
Later, she labors as a Trümmerfrau,
one of the rubble women clearing,
endlessly clearing the ruined city
because it needs to be done, that
and it keeps insanity at arms length.
The waves of bombers will return,
but she lives, she does not cry yet.
When she starts, it will not end.
Lennart Lundh's work has appeared internationally since 1965. He served with the U.S. Navy's Amphibious Ready Group Bravo, supporting Marine Corps operations in Vietnam during 1968 and 1969. Len was honorably discharged as a conscientious objector under NavPers 1860120 in December of 1970. Photo by Jen Pezzo.