We Tread the Night


We tread the night. We tread the night and we own it.
And as a master strikes its beast, we crack the whip without
a flinch of an eye. But we flinch.

We tread the night. Our ears are deaf to all but the monotonous
one-two, one-two of boots hitting the ground beneath us, playing
with our sanity, yet at the same time reminding us it’s there.
This powerful and rhythmic melody is a prestidigitation of sorts,
one that prequels the conflict ahead.

We tread the night. We have each been blessed with a load nearly
reaching the three digit mark in pounds. It wreaks internal havoc on
our backs, and after the first couple dozen kilometers, the pain seeps
in, but we feel no pain, and the blisters on our swollen feet are not truly
there. It soon becomes difficult to march without the extra weight; for we
have learnt that it balances us.

We tread the night. A time not so long ago we were strangers: a
different era. But we are now reunited kin, brothers separated
at birth. If one of us should fall, and some have, a trained medic will run
to his aid and treat the wounds. I will be there to treat the wounds. And
our brothers will carry him as we have carried our brothers before.
It is too familiar.

We tread the night. Our destination is now within our sights, and
our pace increases, with it our pulse, but we are calm. Engulfed in the darkness,
the silence is deafening, though it feels like thunder is roaring. And like
the eel that is our insignia we attack with speed and withdraw before notice.
We now understand its omnipresence, on our tags, our badges, our guns, and
maybe even our bullets. But we don’t understand, and still everything goes according
to plan; we have trained for this.

We tread the night. The sun comes up now and light
glints off one of the bullets. It tilts upwards and out,
prepared to escape the magazine that it’s in, but almost
as if it is trying to run away from its horrible destiny. 26 cents American.
Is that the price of a man’s life? Is that what decades of memories
are valued at? Or is it the price that was paid for the food that gave the
finger energy to pull the trigger? It matters not, for we are not trained to think.
We are trained to tread the night.

When I was finally out of the army I ended up working as a security guard/medic for groups going on tours and hikes. One of the trips I did was called “sea to sea” in which we hiked from the Mediterranean to the Sea of Galilee, roughly 80km in 4-5 days. On the 4th day of my first sea to sea, I thought of this line, We Tread the Night, and how powerful it was to me. I stopped for a second and noticed that I may be out of the army, but I’m once again doing long hikes with a lot of weight on my back, I’m responsible for everyone’s security so I am carrying a pistol, and I’m also in charge of their health, so my backpack is full of medical equipment. I am sleeping in sleeping bags every night, and this isn’t too different from what the army was like. It reminded me of the night of an arrest of a terror activist that I participated in, and within 10-15 minutes, I had written We Tread the Night.

This submission is a part of a weekly series of poetry by Omer Cohen titled Open Hearts and Chaos.

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This might not be popular opinion, but I believe that in order for art to be optimal, it must be a byproduct of an artist's life, rather than the focus of that artist's life. Only then is it genuine. Art is therefore the tool through which each we can express ourselves, our experiences, our emotions and our deepest thoughts as we live out our individual and shared paths, and the expression itself.


    • I’m publishing weekly as part of a series, stay tuned every Monday. I’m not sure what your question is- do you want me to recommend a piece?

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