A Casualty of War ~ Fifty years later
Standing six feet, five inches
An athlete, a saint to me, his baby sister
A poet, a songwriter, a musician.
A sometimes too-compassionate business person, a stand-up comic
Time tortures him as he works to block out childhood pains
He saves my life, not once, three times.
He runs...and runs...and runs some more...
With women who help mask his torture though he is
gentle, and fiercely protective of them
He goes to war at eighteen
"For our country," says he
"Because Papa went," and he craves Papa's approval
It is an unquiet and complicated time.
Like many of our young when called into service,
Responding to guerrilla warfare and confronted by a small child
Strapped with explosives,
Running toward his squad,
He removes the child with robot-like coldness
He, a devoted lover of all children
Forty-five years later he finally tells me, his tag-along baby sister.
He returns to the United States of America
After Korea and Viet Nam
He is a wise, old man of twenty-two
People spit on him
Yell at him
No creature comforts
Yet he is first to arrive to cradle me, his sister, upon the death of my only son.
Life runs away while
His path continues with seething harshness
Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
Hemorrhaging on the brain
Each contracted in Korea and Viet Nam
Between eighteen and twenty-two.
My heart on standby
I cannot breathe
Life's ending arrives
I sing to him
Three thousand miles separate us
I cannot get to him
to hold him as the physical body fades
Roads are shut down
Weather is severe.
For days and nights I call every two hours
A caring assistant places the phone to his ear
I hear his efforts to speak
His moans, his breath
He is comatose yet cries a single tear upon hearing my voice and
His favorite song
I sing more
And then I cannot stop singing.
I cannot stop laughing as I
Remind him of the time he dropped me, putting my head through the television screen when we were little
And the samurai sword that impaled his foot to the wood floor of our home
After calling me for help he has to pull it out himself because
Upon seeing the fountain of blood arcing upward
I have fainted.
I sing all the songs he begged for as a child
As the last unsteady note fades with my breath
God is watching
My brother's spirit is finally free.
A Moodscope member.