Two Deaths in Vietnam

by | Mar 23, 2011 | Poetry | 0 comments

Silent ships nod their sleeping bows as gentle harbor
swells rock their hulls in syncopated rhythm. A short
time ago the hot afternoon sun dipped below the
horizon leaving huge silhouettes of war riding the
blackening, blue waters as twilight slipped into
darkness. Night came, and with it the anticipated eerie
shadows exchanging friendly, innocent objects with an
enemies’ targeting eyes.

Black shadows, exaggerated in one’s mind by a
frightened imagination, lurked everywhere on a pitch-
black background of instant death. Nervous sentries
popped illuminating flares, creating the illusion of daylight
in the darkness for short intervals of time. The flares,
swaying beneath miniature parachutes, in themselves
caused more dancing shadows. As the ever nervous
eyes of the sentries strained to see who, or what, was “out
there” that had caused the flares to be fired, a light came on
in no-man’s land.

The order was given, “Put it out.” A rifle cracked … the
light went out. Daylight, hours away, would tell the
tainted, unseen story of a young father who, while
retrieving his tools, was never to go home to sleep with
his family again. His life ended. Someone’s son lay face
down in the cold, blood-soaked mud he worked
yesterday as a garden for his family’s table. I thank God
the sentry was not me, for he sleeps tonight, and has
slept ever since pulling the trigger, with the
knowledge he took a life. He sleeps every night with the
knowledge … he … took an innocent life.


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