Soldier's Lullaby

by Kristina Woodhill

my words drift
from that better time
that distant
shifting desert stage
where now
I'm but a worn, old
bookmark, trapped
between each fading page

where dancers swirled
and spun my mind
to drum's “boom” beat
to donkey's bray
proud feet set
on their future's path
in back yet forward
camel's sway

in heavy boots
you've tread
those lands
where i ran lightly
free and gay
where i grew up
in innocence
you've heard
the dogs of war's
hoarse bay

i read of you
and your return
and weep at tales
of frozen souls
i'm told you've
lost your walking stick
your address
you no longer know

hush, hush
and come again
among us
lay your burdens
at our feet
let us carry now your sorrows
let us help to
sooth your sleep

and i would hold
your aching heart
and with my
gentle, desert hands
each probing
camel thorn
and brush away
harsh grit felt sand

and i would
carve an oaken stick
to fit and meld
your trembling frame
i'd walk with you
and plant a path
where green grass grows
no cutting blade

hush, hush
rest now your
calloused feet
kind soldier, true
brave soldier, strong
and let us guide
you to that gate
that welcomes you
that calls you home


Author's Note: In 2001 we expatriots who had spent part of the 1950's through most of the '70's in Afghanistan, rejoiced that the world, the United States in the lead, was instrumental in liberating the Afghan people from the Taliban, on the tail of the Soviet's retreat. Now, as the battle continues, our own young men and women are returning home from there and Iraq, war tired and some suffering from post traumatic stress. The statistics of the homeless vet from these wars is rising.

Posted on 01/21/2008
Copyright © 2020 Kristina Woodhill

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Gabriel Ricard on 01/21/08 at 03:11 AM

And it's just gonna get higher, I suspect. Strong words. Well done.

Posted by Rhiannon Jones on 01/21/08 at 02:09 PM

An amazing poem. Beautiful.

Posted by David R Spellman on 01/21/08 at 10:32 PM

A very touching and heartfelt work - made more real and sorrowful by the fact that you had/have such a connection to the country and its peoples, then and now. It must be difficult to have seen the tremendous amount of turmoil taking place there since the days of your youth spent there. Wonderful write!

Posted by Max Bouillet on 01/22/08 at 12:59 AM

Images of bygone eras with the consoling words to those striving to return an ugly present to a simpler past. Great write... thanks for sharing.

Posted by Gregory O'Neill on 01/24/08 at 12:25 AM

How excellent, Kristina. Your having been there allows the reader to tread the dusty sand with you. All wonderful, and I love, "the dogs of war's hoarse bay"...but I can't pick. This just fine, heartfelt poetry. Thanks. Potd material.

Posted by Quentin S Clingerman on 02/02/08 at 08:12 PM

A very moving and exquisite tribute. Going to one of my favorites!

Posted by Glenn Currier on 10/10/09 at 02:07 PM

Kristina, what a sweet but sad encounter finding this poem here this morning. The tenderness and compassion here washes over me with a gentleness that belies the current violent situation in that beleaguered land. Thanks.

Posted by Laura Doom on 12/16/09 at 05:03 PM

The political practice & principle in this context is complex, though it seems the Bush-Blair axis of excess chose not to see it that way. Anyway, good to see a piece of compassion, even altruism adorning this personally prepared page.
I've just finished pulling the cat's tail -- impressed to witness the evolution of form and rhythm, of which you are now undisputed mistress, in my unqualified opinion...
Pristina Woodhill -- i am striken x

Posted by E. A. Pugh on 01/27/11 at 06:36 PM

Great topic, thanks.

Posted by John Stevens on 07/23/11 at 11:22 PM

Laid out beautifully, thought following thought seamlessly. Could visualize the country side, the people... ours and theirs. Thank you for expressing it so well.

Posted by Bertram Sparagmos on 10/26/12 at 12:25 PM

I'm there right now. There's still the open earth and sky. Maybe one day there will be innocence again. I hope, anyway.

Posted by Steven Craig on 02/07/20 at 12:16 AM

Blue Stone Black Gravel Red Jewels Brilliant blades Pale before that heart that has seen Afghanistan

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