The disease began in the heart,
As all diseases do.
There were no doctors, then; no medicine,
But the nurses could smell it.
The nurses knew.
A normal heart fills
Like a drunkard's wine cup, again and again.
It floats, a hovering, invisible host,
Passing it around,
Spreading it thin.
The disease began in his heart,
Which, up until then,
Had been as anonymous within as a
Quiet neighbor, unseen and unknown,
A diamond in a fen.
A normal nurse waits
All in white like a bride, knowing her place,
Waiting at the station or in the wings,
Like a sluggish pulse
Burning to race.
His disease began in the heart,
Then spread apace,
Involving his eyes as he declared his feckless love
Laid out in labored sighs, all for a nurse,
All over his face.
I kissed a German woman,
And it brought the bombers
And every night since.
Heads have rolled,
And in my bones, I can feel
Little black eagles making their nests.
You'll say, the pilots are dead.
They may be dust, dry as stones,
But they bomb the streets
In little neat rows
All because I kissed a woman;
All because I couldn't say no.
She warned me.
She told me, you are poor little Belgium,
Trotting out your schoolgirl French,
Fragile as a croissant in the cross hairs;
But I kissed her anyway
Like a camp-following fifteen minute wench,
And now, every night,
My little black eagles fly up through the bombs,
As quaint and fine as Kaisers;
My one-winged strutting prayers.
photographs by Eugenio Recuenco, poetry by Shay Caroline.