A Blind Date Asks About the War by Brandon Courtney

How should I answer her
question, did you kill
          anyone overseas?

I tell her this: a man aimed
more than his rifle
          at my chest;

he aimed
the possibility
          of nothingness
and death.

His hands
were the most familiar
          weapons he carried;

          he made his hands
into a hundred things
          more: shovels, cradle,

and blindfolds.
          These were his alone.
I tell her this:

If you walk a mile
in any direction
                    you’re bound

to meet the dead,
buried in soft
          mattresses of soil.

Wind will move
the graveside
          grass like hair

underwater. I tell her
this: how the green blades
stir is only half
                    of my answer.

Brandon Courtney was born and raised in Iowa, served four years in the United States Navy (Operation Enduring Freedom), and is a graduate of the MFA program at Hollins University. His poetry is forthcoming or appears in Best New Poets (’09), The Journal, 32 Poems, and Boston Review, among many others. His book, The Grief Muscles, is forthcoming from Sheep Meadow Press. Thrush Press will published his chapbook, Improvised Devices. He is a graduate student at the University of Chicago.