Eric Vithalani

Soldier (1943)

Across the Aries River, a town
burns like a slim, solo
ballerina’s turn. Do we still
have to go? For mortality,
the answer is yes. Next
to me, split open, a man’s head.
Ripples laid to see—. A foxhole
and farmland pulls flat, rotten
on all sides as if moles have
adjusted the world from below.
There was a time when shooting
birds with a pellet gun
amused us. We hid behind
hedges or among the cows, waiting.
It’s funny how some conditions
are hard to transcribe.
A half-dreamlike state. Bombers
like cranes stretch long shadows,
disappear past the single gray
plume. We used to stay out until
silhouettes of bats clouded
the little town sky and our mothers
leaned out of front doors, calling our names.


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