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At The Vietnam Memorial

In the marrow of my bones,
In the sinews of my heart,
I have hidden,
Fearful of you, my memories,
Too fragile to welcome you back.

Wounded, too wounded,
I did not wish to see again
Those desperate hours
When we stood together
On the terrible brink of
Live and let live,
Kill or be killed.

Now, I am here
Before this reflective, black wall,
That is scarred with your many names.
And I ask distantly, “Which of you
Took my place, died,
So that I could live
This long, paradoxical life,
Burdened, shot through with sorrow,
Yet gifted too with love, children,
And the sweet memories
That you would never have,
Never know?”
Must these tears of mine
Be always so contradictory?

Well, I am here now
Seeing you through
The fog of four decades,
And the prisms of my tears.
I see my image reflected in the
Polished black mirror of this wall
Tattooed with your names.
I am weary with age now,
Yet the brotherly words
You spoke into me
Those many years ago
Still push me forward,
And for this I am humbly
Grateful.

 

 

 

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