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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Likenesses

The specialist displayed his handiwork:
before and after photographs of kids
disfigured by genetic quirk—
ears clenched buds, noses incomplete—fitted
with prosthetics.He'd designed disguises
for CIA-led foreign escapades,
transfigured diplomats and spies
who fled their veils, identities unmade.
His pages turned to war's portfolio,
the burned, bombed, slashed to ribbons, branded, shot,
someone's children made to swallow
our proclivities, merciful or not.
"So much of who we are, " he said, "depends
on markers humans recognize as us."
I recalled our daughter Helen
shying from my stroke-strange mother's kisses,
two years enough to discern alien
in familiar guise.Random casualties
of fragile chromosome or gun,
invention or divine efficiency,
can children fathom what we have in mind—
reconstructed in our broken image,
comforting likenesses, our kind,
ours to crush again and kiss the damage?


From Deniability (Orchises Press,2009)
George Witte
Topic(s) of this poem: children,war
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