Against the Gods

by Steve Scafidi

Swung like a bat
    like that and
that, swung by
    their feet they
swing through
    air and smash
against the tall
    innocent tree,
the white bark
    growing this
dark patch.

Simple sycamore
    in Cambodia
against which
    the infants
were dashed
    in 1973
knocking all
    breath out
from the slow
    green body
of the world.

Simple tree
    against which
this continued
    all morning
beside the river
    just going
as the mothers
    clutched nothing
and held back
    not one word
not one sound

heading out from
    the furthermost
reach of who
    they were —
also murdered
    in a moment
coming on
    all such sounds
beside the river
    drowning out
the other noises

the soldiers made
    against which
tonight the tree
    and the river
still together
    endure somehow
without grief
    without memory
of that morning,
    or any morning
among our kind.

Steve Scafidi earned his MFA at Arizona State University and is the author of Sparks from a Nine-Pound Hammer (Louisiana State University Press, 2001). He is a cabinetmaker and lives in Summit Point, West Virginia.