Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

For Memorial Day

I wrote this poem about my husband and about my entirely human inability to understand what he had been through. I think it illustrates the difficulties wives face when someone comes back from war.
If you pair it with Bruce Weigl's Song of Napalm I think it does a good job of explaining some of the post-war problems couples have and why it does not simply go away with time.
It takes understanding (as opposed to misunderstanding), loving detachment (as opposed to personalizing), and compassion (as opposed to judgment) to make a happy life with a veteran, on both sides.
I always say to vets to remember how they felt about their wounded buddies, how much they wanted to help. We see you bleeding, and we want to help, and quite often everything we do has the reverse effect, so that is our pain.
Bless all vets.

I remember how your voice wept

I remember how your voice wept
when you told me

His balls were gone
His leg too
a bloody stump
The skin flapped and sprayed
blood all down the side of your ship
over the gunner and the gun
You flew as fast as was humanly possible
mechanically possible
He still died.
The wedding ring on his left hand glinted
As they flipped him onto a stretcher
And headed for the body piles.

A horrible story. I wept for you inside
but then I had to go make supper,
sing Jack to sleep
wash the dishes
do my homework
run out to buy the quart of whiskey that let you sleep
for a few hours between 1 or 2 AM and your 8 o’clock class
which you could barely sit through even with two stiff whiskeys
under your belt
And after all,
it was just a story to me—
something awful that happened to you
on the other side of the world—
Not real
running down the side of the helicopter
not real
blown away
not real
with the wedding ring glinting
©1989 Patience H. C. Mason