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How Bright It Is

April. And the air dry
As the shoulders of a water buffalo.

Grasshoppers scratch at the dirt,
rub their wings with thin legs
flaring out in front of the soldiers
in low arcing flights, wings a blur.

The soldiers don’t notice anymore,
seeing only the wreckage of the streets,
bodies draped with sheets, and the sun,
how bright it is, how hard and flat and white.

It will take many nails from the coffinmakers
to shut out this light, which reflects off everything:
the calloused feet of the dead, their bony hands, 
their pale foreheads so cold, brilliant in the sun.

—Brian Turner

from Here, Bullet, Alice James Books.

Copyright © 2005 by Brian Turner.

Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Alice James Books, www.alicejamesbooks.org.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Brian Turner (1967- ) is the author of two poetry collections, including Phantom Noise (Alice James Books, 2010). A U.S. Army veteran, Turner directs the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College.

Learn more about Brian Turner at The Poetry Foundation.