Volume 24, Number 2

from “Bradley Manning Has Not Been Authenticated Yet”

Brad Manning, it is fall in Pennsylvania,
and no light could be lovelier than this
rose gold that slants across the yard and makes
of fallen maple leaves a fiery lake.
I think of you in Leavenworth, the long
fluorescent hours and want to give you this,
this light that fiercely falls. You are despised
by some, and loved by some. You are a saint,
a devil, hero, faggot, angel, dipshit,
traitor, so the nameless faceless say.
They leave their comments on the internet
as if they’ve closed the case. They type and type
and clamor for your death or your release.
You’re only twenty-three and you believed
that truth belonged to all. For this they locked
you from the light. Those months in solitary,
deprived of human voices, human faces
except one hour walking figure eights
in silence in a small room watched by guards.
They kept you naked, mostly, “for your safety,”
just a minor cruelty of this war.
My fingers on the keys create these strings
of letters on a screen, meeting the lines
you cast out secretly. With some you shone
a light, with some you sought to touch another
soul, and these two longings sentenced you.
You wanted, as you wrote, a conversation,
a rethinking of the endless wars. My small
contrivances, the up and down and up
and down to make it art aren’t much, but all
I have. I give it to the conversation
because this light that lingeringly trails
to night should break the heart in such a world.

—Amanda Leigh Rogers