Life Lesson

This is what you were always taught:
to lay down your body
over the body of the grenade
and allow its explosive force
to enter each soft cell.

Here is what you were always taught:
to protect, to shield, to allow
the grenades fury to enter you, sending
yourself out in shards
into an empty universe.

And here’s the thing they never taught you:
to leave behind only
what can be gathered and buried,
to run and run with seventy
blessed kilos on your back.

Here is exactly what you were taught:
to allow those around you
to survive
while you hold
the grenade to your belly
as if it was your own cold heart.


“Life Lesson, ” Poet Lore, 125th Anniversary Issue