Thinking About the Enemy

By J. P. White
In the beginning we could hear their swords cutting jewels
From the protected orchard while our children heard fine teeth
Dragging along empty granary floors. Between us and them
Stands the great wound, swallowing all tears, all voices.

Transfixed or transformed by this pain? We never know because
Who can slip through the gate without throwing a shadow
Toward both the past and present? Fire, flood, famine—
All we've wished upon them a thousand times, still they inch

Back and taunt us with their persistence. We track them down
To a quick end. More come. And the old memories grow new.
The future seems already written with a pen of iron. The book
Unreadable, immense. The enemy has become our masterpiece.

Source: Poetry (September 2002).


This poem originally appeared in the September 2002 issue of Poetry magazine

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September 2002

Poems by J. P. White

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT War & Conflict, Friends & Enemies, Relationships, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Imagery, Free Verse, Metaphor

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