The Hail – Jacob Butlett

                        after Zbigniew Herbert

when my only son
returned from his final deployment
he had across his cheek a scar
and above the scar
a pair of blank eyes

petals of flying glass
pricked him in Iraq
the day before he turned twenty
(a bomb, he said, it was a bomb)

he tirelessly shared with me
his love for literature
but he admired most of all
the literature of the fallen

catching his breath
he asked his fallen brothers to read
Woolf Hemingway Plath

he screamed
that the falling action is near
that he has reached the climax
and then weeping admitted
that Shakespeare did not love him

my wife watched him
mumble to himself more and more
lost at the peak of desire
he became an endless chapter

into empty blue hives of eyes
entered a twin eclipse
and his bloody wrists were soon covered
with the sticky wet
bandages of my wife’s teary hands

nothing remained
but his tremulous voice
what tales
he’d crafted with his voice
in a deep tone he carried dog tags
in a soft tone his brothers’ dénouement

white shirts took my boy
and drove him out of the city
he comes back every winter
gaunt and pale
he knocks on the door
once inside, he stays away from the windows

we drink eggnog together
and he offers
the never-ending literature of his life
gripping his chipped glass
with shaky hands of hail
Jacob ButlettJacob Butlett holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Loras College. Some of his work has been published or is forthcoming in Gone Lawn, Outrageous Fortune, Free Lit Magazine, Varnish, Clarion, Cold Creek Review, The Shallows, and plain china. He is an aspiring gay writer with hopes of one day receiving an MFA in Writing and Publishing.