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John Horvath Jr
Happily it is April; it is late Spring; the madness that is summer
runs before each breath that in the still crisp air forms small clouds of mist
that kiss the soft features of her open white face. I might have loved her
even should war and heroism not swelled Masurian trenches, the corpulent
bivouacs of wire reports appearing in the papers, the tedious lists of dead
or missing men. I might have loved her for the parchment of her lips red
as the edges of a wound or the soft curvature of silken tresses that cover
the silk cushioned bed on which we flatten as if to hide from the mortars.
Happily it is April; late Spring with the blush of hoarfrost on the leaves;
and not yet has the madness of summer, the shellshock of our two lives
come brashly across no-man's-land to meet with us. I am still a stallion
of a soldier, dapper in pressed cotton, firm flanked, and I love her abandon,
love her strong struggle, love her for the experience of loving. Ah, April.
I had had lovers before her, indeed loved the Victorian virgins of London,
damned damsels in Paris and maidens in Vienna, even broad bellied whores
lounging at the naval docks of Vladivostok. So, whence such stumbling
awkwardness--I say it is she who like a martial march makes me tremble
like a young recruit at first battle of congress in the warfare of fucking.
And because it is April, I can and do imagine all of Christendom's brides
mine for the taking, their sisters saddened by imminent loss of me mine
for the taking, their mothers proud to own daughters known by a patriot.
But there is too soon the coming tremors of summer madness remorseless
weeping at partings and it is suddenly August and I am a broken warrior
who weeps in the bed of his lust, laying there crippled with fear of loss,
his soul never found among the rubble of shell holes, his teeth scattered
in wheatfields of tomorrow's hunger; no, I am not unafraid; I am unbraved;
I am no lover save a lover of my own image in the mirror over her vanity;
and I have lied. It is April; indeed it is April; the generals have sealed
my fate with their banners and their maneuvers and their shoddy glory.
I shall be summerless; gold buttons and croix de guerre stripped; my hands
are bound; the black hood engaged; my comrades chamber the round.
Forgive me, a sinner. Forgive all sinners of whom I am chief and first.
I imagine her round belly like a hillock of fresh rye, and the birds hover
above the wheat of her laughter which rises on heat columns to the ear
of the Lord who welcomes me home. It is war that is a great cowardice.
Not the picking of flowers in the hill country, not the taste of red apples.
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