Who out there might I have saved and who am I to say that if I had gone and fought along they'd be happier today? Which among them would have marched before adoring mortars and towards their final chance to Meddle with the Honor of their chore? Who out there might I have saved and what would that have done but reinforce the enemy on the ever-growing front? Which among them would have marched until their soles knew every grain of every dune and cratered ruin that compelled the inward aim? Who out there might I have saved and who am I to say that the lives I would have handed out were better than the graves?
We were a sentence written at night in the woods on some old road dug out for I can’t guess what and knee-deep with the damnedest sand. But there was only the walking never the starting. A tiny line just a few words long marching unprefaced and already three chapters deep in a forest that had a beginning somewhere but like all beginnings it came first so we forgot it as soon as we… Sometimes we walked for days but our martial moments were phraselong and fragmentary and I swear I can only ever remember a minute or sometimes even just the preparatory inhale – a memory with half a mind and here the breath catches on a movement through the falling action of a black February night when in an odd blank space erased from the forest’s page there was a slickblack scribble that was a snake. One of the words in my sentence raised a blade and I drew a slight hyphen but it was predicated on happy endings and nobody writes those anymore so he cut the head from the snake like pulling the dot out from under the exclamation point and it writhed and squirmed and semi-colon’d and parenthese’d and ran on and on and on and bled inkblack into the moonwhite sand and all I could say was that it wasn’t even poisonous but that doesn’t matter much because either am I but I know from the way we write stories now that mine’ll likely end in knives too because when all you are is words somewhere three chapters deep there’s no way for you to remember the beginning.