Jul 17, 2012

War Mask

Written by Ansel Elkins

Read by Brent Newsom

Most animals will disguise a wound.
Not you.

When I undressed you I discovered
a portrait of your ex

tattooed across your back. Her auburn hair
painted as waves of flame, her name

a petroglyph in the lithic skin
on your shoulder blade. Men

hunt in straight lines, arrow-like.
Women set nets, deceitful lines laced by hook and eye.

It’s a fox hunt in full cry,
horses and their scarlet-coated riders

with a pack of hounds in full pursuit.
In any courtship, there is the pursuer

and the pursued. Then the final curtain
when both draw their guns.

I searched for you through the battlefield’s smoke
and found you in ruins. The ghost

of my hands threaded through your black hair
mixed with blood and branches.

I couldn’t recognize which hunter I was.
There are no mirrors

in war. I thought I was Achilles.
Then, Hector.

I was two enemies at once.