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Poem: Charon, from University of Utah's Writing on War class
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

This poem was written by student Dillon Blake Ely in Writing on War, WRTG3019, at the University of Utah.

Charon

By Dillon Blake Ely

We lived in a tent against the frozen earth,

Four characters in a space for two, if

You count from the beginning:

Me, American, Afghan, Frenchman

Now breakfast comes before the sun rises, before

Afghan knows which way to pray, before

We know who the enemies are

We sit at a table in the morning dimness

There are three bottles of red wine

Out of place, on this arid plateau

I salivate sitting before them, they are mine, they

Remind me of what it was like to live

American dug them from an abandoned truck

While everyone else slept, while I

Sat at the table before Radio

The stars above, falling, just not here yet

The conversation is in gestures, in hands, in

Head nods and murmurs, rustling around the table

We talk about the night, about our dreams

About our women and their men, about

Lives that don't live on this plateau, about

Lives that speak to each other with real words

Radio crackles and the table looks to me

I play with the knobs till the crackle is clearer

Radio says our position is taking fire and I hear

Frenchman, calling for Air, for more Air!

American giggles with anticipation, American

Stirs in his seat like a child

I'm excited at the sound of Frenchman

So vigilant, such perfection in his Radio discipline

Frenchman lifts the bottle in his hand, just

As Radio fuzzes from the blast

I pull from the wine and grin with red teeth

Afghan slaps me on the back, approving nods

Circle the table, a job well done

Afghan grabs cigarettes from a cargo pocket, smiles

We sit and smoke and drink and smell and

Wait, there is a breeze that carries the dawn here,

A soft orange glow to our faces, the ground

Fading away in the contrast

We let it bathe us, while ghosts

With skeletal feet creep away, disguised

As shadows shrinking into the shrubs

They disappear with us, with all of the fuzz from

Radio

The only sound, the breeze, the swish of wine

It makes its way around the table

Our silent conversations have finished, we all

Sit in peace, the war is done

We appear as the cast from a children's book

The kind you remember till you're grown

Radio was the narrator, everyone else

In a dream, one you wouldn't, not choose

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