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The Oldest Lie

by Michael Fay

They will not rise
These dead
They will not turn again
Mudsweat faces to the sun
Nor to the sounding gunfire run

Down they’ll go
Down deep and deeper
To the deepest gravity all souls obey
For the ever
And the day

Mothers, they will long recall
Friends awhile, then not at all
And the dead will perfectly remain
Dead to one
And dead to all

Two mothers asked
About their sons
Please help us know a little more
Of their last days
Just before

So called again, the old art must arise
To raise for mothers the old, old lies
I was there and saw them die
And now again to mothers ply
The resurrected oldest lie

Chief Warrant Officer-2 Michael D. Fay served as the official combat artist for the United States Marine Corps from January 2000 until the last day of 2009. In this role Fay deployed twice each to Afghanistan and Iraq during the current GWOT, and once as a free-lance correspondent and illustrator for the Kandahar Journal of Canada’s National Post and New York Times newspapers. He organized and directs The Joe Bonham Project, a cooperative venture of the International Society of War Artists and the Society of Illustrators that visits with and sketches America’s most profoundly wounded combat veterans.

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