Perpetual Unwinding

a poem by Nakeysha Roberts Washington

Flowers cover the graves of the soldiers
while Agent Orange continues to “defoliate,”
stripping away lives.
Layers of skin peel away
one by one.

DOW’s concoction gave him cancer.
Lying in his bed, eyes full of what could have been
and tears.
He cries because every time
I visit, I am older,
which illustrates on the cruel easel
—time that he had been
POW to his VA sick bed.
He cries because every time
I visit, too much time has passed,
which reminds him of the time
that he wasn’t able to see
his children grow.
It takes years and years for him to die.

Just as flower children adorned
their heads with laurel wreaths,
flowers now cover the grave
of the flower child.
It is still near his head isn’t it?

Still waiting for peace to shape life,
flowers spring now and will later
cover the headstones of
heads that will explode tonight
because they are too near the detonation.
What difference does it make?
It is all in the name of martyrdom
in one religion or the next.