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The War on the War on TerrorEdwin Morgan
Vol. 28 No. 3 · 9 February 2006

The War on the War on Terror

Edwin Morgan

This woman, I heard her say she could not bear
To bring a child into a world so dreadful
It scoops up smoking body parts like that.
Did she mean she would rather leave them lying?
Of course not, that’s just twisting what she says.
Well, let’s be blunt, let us be damnably blunt.
Would you rather not have a baby in a body-bag,
Are you listening! – bits of a baby
In a body-bag, would you rather not have that,
Not see that, not touch that, not know that,
Is it too much for you, for your sensibilities,
Come on, I know what I am talking about,
I have been right through life like an arrow.
What child would welcome such a grudging mother?
Stay in bed then; count the hours and wars.
It really is a very simple question:
Would you rather have something, or nothing?
Sit with your back against some tomb, altar,
Observatory if that’s what it is, Callanish
Will do, and empty your mind of everything
But Callanish, and then give Callanish
The kick, it takes at least a day and a night
For strongest ancient markers to dissolve
With all their people, artefacts, lastly all power
If you believe me, as I think you should –
And there is no word for what is left –
Imagine an eternity of this –
You, childless woman who wants to remain so,
You are frowning in this tawdry restaurant
And I do not know your beliefs, if any,
But I outstare you with my unspoken thought
That the greatest gift it is possible to make
Is life itself.
           Gather your things, off
Into the grimy evening,
Woman unknown, best so.

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