Normal

for Shara McCallum

walk long enough
with a pebble in your shoe
and walking with a pebble becomes
normal

you no longer notice
the discomfort the limp is just
another thing to live with
pain just another fact of life

until someone you haven’t seen for a time
asks Why are you limping
and you remember
Oh yes, that’s right

I have a pebble in my shoe

and then what do you do
take it out leave it in because
you are used to its dull and constant ache
do not want to learn how to walk properly again

live long enough
with war
and it becomes
normal

men and women you don’t know –
someone else’s children –
fly off the edges of the map
to places you were never taught existed

photos of the dead close out
nightly news programs a familiar tag-
line as the anchor signs off
until tomorrow

images of troops march across
a strange topography the sound of guns
going off in places so distant
you hardly notice one barely hears a noise

until someone says
We’ve been at war my entire adult life

and you remember
Oh, yes, that’s right

there IS a war still going on

And then what do you do?

Poetry in the Branches coordinator for Poets House in New York City, Reginald Harris was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and the ForeWord Book of the Year for 10 Tongues: Poems (2001). A Pushcart Prize Nominee and recipient of Individual Artist Awards for both poetry and fiction from the Maryland State Arts Council, his work has appeared in numerous journals, anthologies, and other publications. A Foreign Policy In Focus contributor, Harris participated in the Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.