Doomed to Compose its Own Music—War, a Symphony, Bereft of Key and Clef, No One Wants to Hear
Did you take this photograph? Nam? The exhibit says, “My War.” But I already know it wasn’t you because the soldier who took this photo never got out, never came home, never recovered. Lots of nevers about Nam. Like it never should’ve happened. Like the earth’s concussion from an 800-pound airdropped bomb. Like I’ll never know that sound—an explosion a hundred yards from inside an almost-dead, shell-shocked man’s head. See acoustic guitars, plucked-strings, well-played close to the heart. Resemble, Lord help us, automatic weapons.
Did you ever imagine snow in Vietnam? I’m not talking about cloudbursts of phosphorous or ash, or brown, khaki, tan. Could’ve been my husband, that soldier in the photograph. Spitt’n image my gram would say—sitt’n by his own self, eyes sad as stars. That’s what my husband said about his own eyes, Winter of ’64—Cassius Clay and the Beatles but then the mail came, “medically unfit for military service.”
And what about the flatbed?—long, cold, empty—halted in the quiet-dark just beyond the boy, that lone soldier-boy. Transit for body bags I wonder? And how many is too many? Perhaps one was for the guy who shot that photo. Was he a boy like my husband once?—dreaming, dreaming of firefights in the jungle. Scooping handfuls of wet dirt to cover his hated, dangerous freckles.