The Morning After the War by John Blair

Today you can’t remember anyone
you ever were. If as Seneca says
the past alone is certain you awake
certain of nothing at all except that

you woke. Perhaps not even that. It feels
like the first cold morning after the end
of a war, all the zealots gone or caged
away, too little time yet for the ink

to soak true-tattoo into history’s
withered skin and become the story you
tell yourself, as if between the rapture
and the pain came the gasping clarity

of static, not empty exactly but
meaningless because though it’s already
written no one who cares can still read it
and there is no one still who cares. Even

the sheets wadded at your feet are mindless
of their aspirations, bloodless and clean
as contingency. A body lies near
you unconcerned and on that body scars

crawl and vine your coeval mysteries
like a whittled prayer for restitution.
If you remembered, you might reach for it,
trace with your fingertips the lineaments

of one compelling history. If you
remembered you might rise into a life
better than the one you hung from a hook
to dry for years in the unselfish sun

of her regard. You might say sing to me
to her, tell me what you know in the hymn-
strummed steeple of your forgiveness, where all
the truth you never swore to tell comes back

already mapped in glory and blue veined
redemption. The war is over, you might
say, and no one won. Lie with me, my love,
in the quiet of our remembering.
John Blair’s poetry collection, Playful Song Called Beautiful, was the 2015 winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize and was published by the University of Iowa Press this last April. He has also published five other books, including two poetry collections, The Occasions of Paradise (U. Tampa Press, 2012) & The Green Girls (Pleiades Press, 2003) and has published poems with various magazines, including Poetry, The Sewanee Review, The Georgia Review, and New Letters.