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Thursday, August 09, 2007


by Marguerite Bouvard

As he scans the list
of battle-frayed soldiers,
the officer shrugs.
Their night sweats,
their inner numbness
are a foreign language to him.

No longer of use

is what he doesn’t say.
But in a small town up North
a college president walks out
of his kingdom of books
and humming classes,
across neatly mowed lawns
and into hospital wards
where days keep collapsing
in the corridors. A former marine,
he comes with his own
searing memories,
speaking the language
of tremors, nightmares
and invisible wounds.
He moves from one
bed to another, opening
windows and doors,
holding each young patient
with his words. He turns these
words into ladders the seriously
maimed can climb up
and out into the world again.

Marguerite Bouvard is the author of several books of poetry as well as books on human rights and one on grieving. Her latest, Healing, is available from the University Press of New England. She is a resident Scholar at Brandeis University’s Women's Studies' Research Center.