That Cry In The Night

She heard him cry out in his sleep.
A terrible sound.
She wrapped an arm around his chest,
stroked him gently.

She understood how war
could carry over,
even into sleep,
how their most private of moments
were shared with the explosion
of a road-side bomb.

His dreams no longer looked forward.
They were stuck in rewind.
Always emerging in a cloud of desert dust
to see scattered body parts
in inglorious Technicolor.

He was in Iraq.
She stayed behind.
Her annoyances were his anxieties.
Her cars backfiring
were his snipers
in that gutted mosque. 
Her trash bags were his body bags. 

She heard him cry out in his sleep.
His body was curled up under blankets.
but his head
was on active duty.
For all her soothing of his flesh,
her soft voice coaxing,
he did not ship home until morning. 


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Schuylkill Valley Journal, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.