Mary Harwell Sayler


I’ve come so far but don’t know why I’m here –
except to shoot down aircraft from the sky,
killing real, live men – not squirrels, as my dear

dad and I did when we tromped everywhere
through autumn woods until I was downed by
diphtheria – so far from life, like I am here –

but then I was much too feverish to fear
the aim of death, shot right between the eyes.
As a kid, I killed a duck, a squirrel, and a deer

I had to clean, and it’s gone on from there.
Hunting was the game, and something had to die.
Is this the same? So far I don’t know why I’m here

for anything else but this. Only, the hunting gear
has changed; the aim has changed and the high
altitude for killing men – not squirrels or deer.

The chaplain always says that God is near, but where
does that leave me in the 6th commandment or “Thy
will be done”? So far! I don’t know why I’m here
killing real live men, not squirrels, when life is dear.

From the chapbook: “Winning The Wars”
All rights reserved; used with poet’s permission