Three Little Words

— Lillian Kalish

At Htauk Kyant War Memorial

In memory of the 90,000 West African Soldiers who fought for the British Imperial Army during WWII.

Outside of Yangon,
amidst the smooching umbrellaed couples,
greenery swelling, a stray,
transient cat,
I mourned.

I touched the white pillars
of time, names of men engraved
and graved there.

I walked over an ossuary of dead soldiers
a terrine of bones and bedrock,
the reminder of a forest now abated.

Beneath some names,
whether in English or Arabic,
a Star of David, or no star at all
as guides to the living,
a sweating bouquet wrapped in plastic
is gently placed
collecting dew.

Soon a storm will break
over the mausoleum
and rain water will fill
the depressions of the dirt.

I forgot my umbrella today
as I came here to mourn,
the depressions of my body
flooded, finally.

Ankle deep, I feel my feet
tethering down,
slithering past
worms and false promise,
down to the heroism
of the soil, down
to you.

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