On Christmas Day, after we dined at Denny’s,
I saw a photograph of a woman in a magazine.
She was that girl on fire, who, glazed with napalm
and nothing else, had run flaming and screaming
from a Viet Nam village in one of those wars.
I remember when I first saw that grainy moment,
hating the photographer for snapping the shot
rather than running to help. Now, in a new black
and white revelation, over the artful draping
of her garment, her left shoulder rose, rippled
with scars, and on her arm was her sleeping
child. That round infant face was full of peace.
The moon, also ravaged by fire, was somewhere
in the sky. Too many think the moon is always
full and only visible in darkness, but tonight,
the old moon holds the new moon in her arms.
Eric Paul Shaffer’s Green Leaves: Selected & New Poems will be published in 2022. He is author of seven previous books of poetry, including Even Further West; A Million-Dollar Bill; Lāhaina Noon; and Portable Planet. Shaffer teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Honolulu Community College.
© 2022, Eric Paul Shaffer