I wanted to go to military school
and march, I wanted to grow up
and be composed and expert
with a rifle, with tactics and fighting,
to be safe and courageous among men
in barracks and on the battlefield.
I wanted to see my arms hairy and
corded with muscle at the end of rolled up khaki sleeves.
I wanted to flex my feet in boots and
look down at the the dust of battles
dimming the leather surfaces, the blood slick
on the rim of the soles. I wanted
the smell of gunpowder in my nostrils, the grime
on my face, the washed-out hollow
love for my comrades found in the foxholes,
the sad understanding, the requiems
of late afternoons walking away from the burial site
with the widow as she cradled the triangulated flag
like a plowblade in her arms.