Friday, September 26, 2003

To those dead: has peace returned?

smooth and black
cuts deep into green ground.
Names engraved.
I, miles away, have not traced with stiff fingers
the crevices created by names,
but have felt my soul rip apart, causing
ever widening fissures in my pulsating heart.

Fourteen years ago
my father wore combat green
in a place called Mekong Delta;

Fourteen years ago
my father prayed Holy, Holy, Holy
to the sound of the mortars’ piercing destruction;

Fourteen years ago
my father placed palm and fingers hard against
hoochmate’s neck while blood spurted in time
with heart beats.

Men that survived those years gathered today
to touch hard stone and read names
of those who did not live.
Will I someday be a name on cold black granite?
They lived in sweat,
led green and red lives,
died under jungle blue skies.

Where was the peace?

On the occasion of the dedication
Of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial,
November 14, 1982.

First published in The Trinity Review, Spring 1983.

Copyright 1983 by Peter A. Stinson.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry 360 with permission of the author.

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