To Encompass Its Largeness, We Build a Fence

To Encompass Its Largeness, We Build a Fence
by Jennifer Conlon

Of the 2 million Americans that fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 500,000 suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

If PTSD were aquatic, we’d make room for the pool.
Imagine a big enough house to contain
500,000 nightmares with pill bottles with guns.
We call the house a skyscraper.

Imagine how it sleeps.
How it dreams in mistakes: a bag
in the corner filled with all 500,000 pieces
of your rifle, a boy knocking on the roof for you to come outside
and shoot him. Imagine a not-dream where he comes inside
and gives you tea. This is his house.

There is no one to divine the future
from these organs. The meat of 500,000 living bodies
is instrument, is song, is work.

Imagine the impact zone as 500,000 light years—
the distance to Andromeda.
How long would it take to walk a light year?

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Jennifer Conlon lives in Tempe, AZ and hails from North Carolina. She is a poetry candidate in ASU’s MFA program, where she also teaches freshman composition and poetry, and serves as the First Looks Editor of Hayden’s Ferry Review. Her poems have been published by Four Chambers Press and Hiedra Magazine. These three poems are inspired by the experience of watching her brother return from war. They inspect both the internal, individual structures of trauma as well as the ungraspable numbers of those affected.