Volume 20, Number 1

Cinderella Story, Oct. 25, 2005

For Bruce Weigl

Like the folk-tale farmer
who asked his wife to be his cow
and pull the plow for a single season,
we asked our children to make a war,

beguiled by a chance to control
a king's ransom of petroleum
and the flim-flam flash-in-the-pan
of freedom, war fought on foreign sand,
not the streets of  New York
or the deep loam of Iowa.

Like the loyal wife wound thrice
with vines—ankles, wrists and head,
they went, expecting quick victory
and home by Christmas,
but war lingered long. Rich men
prospered and still they pulled
war's plow, sowing poor soil
with priceless blood.

Enamored by unaccustomed prosperity,
the farmer took a new wife who bade him
kill the cow, now she wasn't needed.
While the husband demurred,
the cow heard and died of despair.

On the day combat deaths reach 2000,
I think how our good Uncle Sam could forbid
photographing lines of flag-draped coffins—
and how we, like the farmer's dutiful daughter, 
still gather bones and skin in long baskets,

praying the magic
of sacrificial love would—please—
work this time.

—Sandra Lindow