Mark of War

by Stephanie Thomas Berry

Sixteen dead in the night, mothers and their children murdered
by a man rotten with war, our man, their children
and we all stumble around this.
I stumble to the river and sit with the spring beauties
there are so many of them now
this March so warm
they are a carpet of delight
little green children at play among the debris of winter
they wear their pink-striped bonnets and
bask in the marshy wet breath of the river.
I lay down among them,
crushing their fragile arms.
The river swirls in my ears and thunder drums on the mountaintop.
The little spring beauties don’t know about war, or murdered children,
and the river keeps all her secrets.
Even the stags have dropped the burden of their antlers.
I have brought the news to this place
and the wrens chide me.
Everywhere we go, we bear this mark of war.

Stephanie Thomas Berry is an artist and writer living in the Toe River Valley of Western North Carolina. In the studio, she works most often in pastels, but she also enjoys making detailed drawings with Micron pens. Her art celebrates the heart connection we all have with Nature.

About Mark of War—This poem was my response to reports of civilians murdered by an American soldier in Afghanistan. I had been thinking about how often modern media processes terrible events for us, and wanted to craft my own response to this event.