Poem: “The Center for the Intrepid”

browne

(New $50M Rehab Center Opens on Fort Sam Houston, CBS News, Jan 2007)

Wheeled onto the jet leaving
my town, another soldier

whose pruned body echoes earth
liberating itself from gravity.

Inside the cave of his grey
-hooded shirt he sweats

as might a ghost or cello.
As in another war when a baptism

and birthday party band wrapped
their music in black garbage bags

and dug deep beside the Lempa river.
There they stayed until the air emptied

of metal and fear. Only the air never.
One of the first things learned

by a possible jury is that you cannot be
a witness against yourself.

What then is a body? I raised
my right hand. I still have

a right hand, knees, skin that tries
to explain its own brine and marrow.

It’s tomorrow and my children want the game
they call you be the monster, I’ll be the kid.

The grown-ups I know still walk around
make-believing they are in one piece.

We waited so long
to be sure of something.

The song below flinched
a little from the cold.

The song below asking who now
owns his bones?

A former James Michener Fellow in Poetry at the University of Texas in Austin, Jenny Browne is the author of two collections of poems, At Once and the Second Reason, both from University of Tampa Press. Recent poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, AGNI, Fourth Genre, Sentence, and The Texas Observer. She teaches creative writing at Trinity University and is a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus.