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In Memorium

The great Walt Whitman wrote:

Thus in silence in dreams’ projections, Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals, The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand, I sit by the restless all the dark night, some are so young, Some suffer so much, I recall the experience sweet and sad, (Many a soldier’s loving arms about this neck have cross’d and rested, Many a soldier’s kiss dwells on these bearded lips.)

And I write these paltry, inadequate words below:

Memorial: The Freedmen of Charleston made for the Civil War soldiers proper graves, exhuming the bodies piled like cordwood, giving to each a separate space, a place to return to earth, a marking stone.

Memorial: Your vehicle was bombed by a distant drone. What bright clothing did you wear? Where were you traveling to, or from? A visit to your family? Market? Work? School?

Memorial: Twisted shards of Blue Gum, Sassafras, and Rose Myrtle litter the mountainside, unburied near the stumps of once tall trees. We remember.

Memorial: Those of the Mavi Marmara, bringing aid and hopes of peace and reconciliation, boarded in the early hours of an ocean dawn, shot down by fear.

Memorial: Covered in oil, gasping for breath, drowning, sinking. You shrimp, you heron, you turtle, you coral, you pelican, you crab, you mackerel, you spoonbill, you gull, you dragonfly, you whale shark, you plankton, you dolphin, you bass, you pinfish, you egret…

Memorial: They walked among the mountains of the Congo, huge bodies sheltered by tall trees. They roamed the hills of California, golden furred. Their mighty bodies strode the ice flows of the Arctic and swam its seas.

Memorial: Limbs twisted by mercury poisoning. Villages decimated by toxic waste. Farms poisoned and stolen by corporate pesticides and patents. We remember you.

Memorial: Gun carriers and drivers. Family members. Students. Bakers. Weavers. Shopkeepers. Singers. Dancers. Grandparents. Lovers. “Soldiers.” “Civilians.” Human beings.

We remember. We are angry. We mourn.

[I did not insert links for every loss I mention. You can insert your own memories… they are innumerable, I am sure. Photo is from the brilliant W. Eugene Smith.]

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