Bronze Age

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 All Quiet on the Western Front inspired poem

For a friend:

You weren’t there.
You couldn’t have been there.
Not while you navigated the moonstruck pockets of infantry mortar and ash where thirty-five hundred would fall as the eagle and the thousand-mile horse negotiated armistice.

I admired your courage.
You called it common sense.

You held me captive in the memories of your youth. How you fought to ride the winged horse too swift to be mounted. How you waited. How your heart broke.
I never knew the pain you suffered. How night turned into day and the dogs were loosed and the sun fell again upon your many wounded men.

To me you were the epitome of confidence.
I never doubted you.
For that I always felt I failed you.

When the company lion fell to artillery fire and the enemy gave no quarter you stepped in–a lieutenant of the 45th Division–just as Bazookas and Brownings first gave way to grenade, then fist and trench knives came out of your boot sheaths like death on holiday.
If only I had been there.
I could have walked beside you and called you brother.
I would have made you proud, if you let me.

But, you weren’t there.
You couldn’t have been there.
Not while you negotiated the crater of a life left after your mortality was annihilated. Passed over for promotion, misplaced and erased – you served your penance.

I admired your accomplishments.
You called it a mockery.

How could I know that you were protecting me? How could I understand your guilt or empathize with that irrevocable sorrow? How could I know that their torment loosed a demon in you – an internal wound nettled deep like cocklebur seeded on the sounds of soldiers shot dead where they lay.

To me you were the face of freedom.
You never doubted me.
For that I will always love you.

Rest in peace, dad.

2 comments to “Bronze Age”
2 comments to “Bronze Age”

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