The annual pillow fight at West Point Academy has turned bloody this summer. Metal objects hidden inside the pillows caused concussions, broken bones, and a lot of blood. It is an exercise — we should grant this to the young creative cadets — that is much more realistic in preparation for real combat, which has never been fought with pillows and feathers.
But the news about West Point reminds me of my own bloody pillow fight with my ten year older brother once, when I was a boy: when he shut a door in my face during a chase through the house, causing my hand to smash into the glass panel of the door, blood all over glass shards, his mocking laughter still in my ear.
See, the scar is still there, on the palm of my left hand. And all these years I didn’t know that surviving the pillow fight marked me as one of our bravest, ready for war.
[This poem was inspired by today’s (September 5, 2015) front page article in the New York Times, “At West Point, Cadets’ Annual Pillow Fight Becomes Weaponized.” [http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/05/us/at-west-point-annual-pillow-fight-becomes-weaponized.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0]
I use it as an opportunity to respond to the way war in all of its horrors is trivialized in the news as a conceivable alternative to diplomacy. In a way, pillow fights at West Point illustrate that we really train kids to fight our wars.]