On Retreat

Walk Away

It’s a battle term—retreat.
It is the opposite of attack.
To remove oneself from the fray.
To hide amongst the trees,
out of the sunlight,
off the plain of conflict.

It means to drop your weapon;
to run, empty-handed

It means to stop fighting;
to stop thinking about fighting,

We want to think of it as a time of rest,
of serenity,
of knitting our frayed souls
back together.

But it’s really about 
or the lack thereof.

There is no shame in retreat
because it isn’t necessarily 
an expression of cowardice. 

It is about strategy,
about knowing that your resources
are strained.
Or that it is time for rest.

Or it’s an attempt to confuse your enemy—
draw him after you,
pull him into a more vulnerable place
so you can turn and fight.

We think of tree-lined paths
and silent meals
of pretending to be deep.

But retreat simply means
to walk away,
to walk away from your enemy.

To turn around
and show your back to your enemy.

Perhaps it’s the ultimate show of strength:
Here’s my back.

It says nothing of the future.
It does not say, I’ll be back.
Or, Wait here.

Neither does it say, I’ll never see you again.
Never fight you again.
Never be here again.

It just says
that, for the time being,
I am walking away.

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