Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood,
you suckled on the nutrients of my body,
growing from a tiny seed into a burgeoning
root that pushed from my womb into the world,
red like a ripened beet, opening your lungs
to inhale the air of life, screaming your objection.
I held you in my arms, gently as a precious gem
that might disintegrate into dust if I pressed
you too closely to my breast. But there you were,
the fruit that grew from the soil of my body,
always to be my other self, never to be severed
from that umbilical cord that wraps around my heart.
As you grew, I taught you to walk in this world
unafraid, I taught you the courage of manhood,
I held you close and said love, never hate,
for that will destroy you. I tried to implant in you
my heart, my soul, but I wanted you to be better than I.
I prayed that God would care for you when I could not.
And then, my son, you surged into manhood with love
and patriotism in your heart. You sprouted upward
like a strong limbed tree believing in brotherhood
and the veracity of your country, unable to understand
the evil in this wanton world. I had taught you love,
the world mocked you for your weakness.
When the country you loved called you to sacrifice
your life to fight the evil that had exploded, hesitantly
you agreed. How could you do otherwise when I
had taught you love of country. A part of me died
when you left my embrace, but perhaps I have been dying
a bit each day since you left the security of my womb.
Heart of my heart, flesh of my flesh, they took
you away like a lamb to slaughter. They put that gun
in your hand and said “kill”. If I had taught you the evil
of this world, would you still be alive? Oh, my son,
the umbilical cord wrapped around my heart
is squeezing the blood from my body!
Alexandra Moss Zannis, 81, of Fort Wayne, returning Indiana Senior Poet Laureate award winner, is a retired singer whose hobby is oil painting. A widely published poet, credits include The Raintown Review, The Pedestal Magazine, The Red River Review and Prize Poems of 2009, published by Pennsylvania Poetry Society. In 2007 she was published in Encore (the National Federation of State Poetry Societies). Her sign of the zodiac is Scorpio.