WAR AND APRIL
When the forsythia was right, and April had a song,
We learned again the advantages of waiting.
The robins came late that year.
One day turned winter into spring.
The change of seasons is a capricious thing.
The war did to our minds what the weather could never do.
It filled up the front pages, added a special section.
It tried to be discreet, but we all knew,
It had to do with the rapture of killing.
The apologies for April are well known,
Storm tracks, temperature extremes,
The greening of the land, first flowers,
Three hours on a cross, an empty tomb.
The apologies for war are rather more obscure,
Buried deep in rhetoric, wrapped in abstractions.
War offers an excess of explanations, explaining nothing,
Which may be just as well,
Because war opens the gates of hell.
The consolations of April are bittersweet,
It can be forgiven its indiscretions.
Its gifts are lavish, but a price is paid,
Winter endured, the finality of death accepted.
The consolations of war are hollow.
It can be dignified only in prospect or retrospect,
Never while it’s going on.
To the failed explanations, others are added,
People scratch their heads,
And then there is a terrible forgetting.