When I was young,
my brother would take me on journeys to find the moon.
We would spend weeks preparing,
wanting every detail to be just so.
We would leave at dusk,
the harsh wind whipping grass stalks at bare ankles
like a thousand tiny paper cuts
and whistling a hollow song through old oak trees.
And we would scream; we would scream our terrible screams and the wind would whistle its terrible whistle, and the moon would look down at us sagely and we were content just knowing it was watching.
Then I was drafted.
I don't have time to scream anymore;
hurried glances, ruined chances,
paper thin cuts on my ankles that don't sting like before.
Many nights I lay awake,
staring up at the moon,
but it was never staring back,
so eventually I stopped looking.
I've spent what feels like forever howling at the moon,
but never in my life have I ever felt like an animal
until the first time I aimed a gun at a man.
I exhaled and squeezed tight with my finger, and the gun exhaled with me.
It was close-range;
close enough to hear a thick gurgle and cut-off scream deep in his throat
before he dropped heavily and without grace.
red bubbled from his still lips,
and the bloody moon above cast a sickly slick glow.
I wondered if he had ever screamed to the moon
and watched as the frothy blood bubbles at his mouth
took to the darkened dusky sky.
I shook my head, raised my arm, breathed in, tasting copper, exhaled.
The gun exhaled with me again. And again.
My soul weighs me down more than the gun in my hand.
In battle i raise my weapon as easily as the moon rises,
slowly and with purpose,
but my spine curves towards the bloodied earth beneath my boots
from the weight of the screams trapped in my chest.
I long to scream at the moon, but i know the sound would never carry far enough for it to hear; my screams would get lost in the warfare and gunfire around me.
I'm scared that if I open my mouth, the sound of death will force its way down my throat, and I'll never scream again.