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Ken Williams: The Wall of Black Granite — A Memorial Day Message

The Wall of Black Granite

A thousand yard black shroud
thrown over haunted spirits
weighing down sloping shoulders.
Slumbering, brothers-in-arms
Prisoners, captured within

Black granite, our second skin,
those that survived
The slabs reflecting the horrors of war,

Its cost

Reflective slabs honor those
who fell only if it deflects war,
If war cost stares back those who stare within.

Black granite,
Reflects, intensifies survivors guilt,
Defines it, redefines it.

“What did you do in the war, daddy?”
Why did you survive?
Why did we?

Survivors supposed to come home?
Perhaps the cost too high?
Does spirit of the living and dead
become welded to time?
That place?

“Welcome home.”
But where is home?
Captured within black granite?
Belonging to our time in hell

Black granite,
a second skin,
a shroud?
final judgment

Perhaps,
smoking mirrors for war profiteers?
Illusions for panderers of endless war,
mindless nationalism

Black granite,
divides us into the inexplicable
those who served
those who observed

Is it a place for the heart to hide?
Final resting place for the pain?
Or, a measure of pain,
The final bitter sacrifice of loved ones

Black granite beckons us
To the, what might have been?
what should had been
what almost was
what is

Rest easy weary brothers,
we are not so far behind

Ken Williams has been a social worker for the homeless for the past 30 years, and is the author of China White, Shattered Dreams: A Story of the Streets and his first nonfiction book, There Must Be Honor. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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