Heavy, heavy, heavy, hand and heart.
We are at war,
bitterly, bitterly at war.
And the buying and selling
buzzes at our heads, a swarm
of busy flies, a kind of innocence.
Gowns of gold sequins are fitted,
sharp-glinting. What harsh rustlings
of silver moire there are,
to remind me of the shrapnel splinters.
And weddings are held in full solemnity
not of desire but of etiquette,
the nuptial pomp of starched lace;
a grim innocence.
And picnic parties return from the beaches
burning with stored sun in the dusk;
children promised a TV show when they get home
fall asleep in the backs of a million station wagons,
sand in their hair, the sound of waves
quietly persistent at their ears.
They are not listening.
Their parents at night
dream and forget their dreams.
They wake in the dark
and make plans. Their sequin plans
glitter into tomorrow,
They buy, they sell.
They fill freezers with food.
Neon signs flash their intensions
into the years ahead.
And at their ears the sound
of the war. They are
not listening, not listening.
Denise Levertov composed this poem in the fall of 1967 during the Vietnam war. The image is 'War' by Constantino Brumidi. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denise_Levertov