Today, soldiers will be born
in white hospitals or beside drainage ditches,
on lonely farms or in stalled cars,
their mothers and fathers transformed
into makers of soldiers,
whether from an act of lawful union
(a Paris hotel, the window open, stars)
or the brutal dream-fever of rape
(huts and fields burning,
the lowing of slaughtered cows).
Their faces wiped of blood,
the soldiers born this day
settle into that first sleep,
as deep as death, swaddled
in blankets of fresh cotton or dank wool.
L ater, they w ake with a hunger
that lasts their whole lives.
Somewhere a skyscraper shimmers,
ripples shatter the blackness of a well,
and the day swells with a clarity
of light, of purpose,
neither clouds nor birds c an comprehend
as they p ass through endless sky,
but that, somewhere,
stirs a newborn dictator deep in his heart,
making him shake his rattle greedily.
Temple Cone is the author of two books of poetry, The Broken Meadow and No Loneliness. An associate professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy, he lives in Annapolis with his wife and daughter. Visit him at templecone.com.