This poem came out of the December 3, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from kelkyag. It also fills the "peace" square in my 11-26-13 card for the Origfic Bingo fest. It has been sponsored out of the general fund, based on an audience poll.
Shahana and Ari have been
seeking veterans for weeks now,
speaking in secret to those
who fought before the bright temple fell.
Perhaps the world is turning
enough to make meaningful changes,
if they can only gather the right people.
Shahana leaves Ari at a village fountain
to talk with other travelers,
while the older paladin goes
to see about getting some dents
knocked out of her armor.
The old man who repairs her gear
is taciturn at best, but sympathetic
to Shahana's ideals and willing
to mention them to others.
When Shahana returns from the armorer,
she finds Ari sitting on the ground
with a beggar's head cradled in her lap.
"It's like the war is still going on
inside my head," says the man.
"Sometimes I can even feel
the sword in my hand."
His right arm moves restlessly,
but Shahana can see
that it ends at the wrist.
The sunlight spills over Ari's golden hair,
clinging to her like drops of honey.
"Battle changes everyone it touches,"
Ari says, "but there is more to life than that.
Do gentle things instead of violence,
and you will find that they grow on you."
"I don't know how that will
bring me peace of mind,"
the beggar says.
Ari runs her fingers through
his tangled brown curls,
spreading Gailah's grace
so that the frown lines
slowly fade from his forehead.
"If you want peace of mind,"
Ari says, "you must cultivate
a mind of peace."
Shahana settles beside them
and adds her own modest magic
to the shawl of serenity
that Ari is so skillfully weaving.
Not every veteran is one
they need to call back into service.
* * *
PTSD is a common issue for veterans, although it can come from any traumatic experience. They can learn to cultivate peace of mind. Some people find comfort in spirituality.
A phantom limb is the lingering mental impression of a lost body part, often with unpleasant sensations. There are various ways of coping with phantom feelings,