Evening horizon appears bruised.
Sunlight slithers off, silently.
Darkness creeps, cougar-like,
Crisp shadows chill skin.
Eyes erupt, silence shatters, tear’s heave.
Sheet of paper, official, type written,
Trembles in hand,
Rattling, snake-like, after a strike,
Fangs moist, blood stained.
Frightful words, venomous,
Surge though veins,
Numb arms, throat,
Death stalks heart.
Collapsed to dust,
Curl in ball,
Wind rushes by.
Pray to roll away, roll away
Swoosh along prairie flat
To wherever tumbleweeds go.
But I lay like a stone;
Marking the end of my life.
Won’t be marching
A little heart renewed life.
I imagined it no bigger than Johnny’s,
When his mother,
Probably dancing with him now,
First told me he was coming.
Being a father was a good thing,
The medal dangled from a ribbon,
Wide purple with thin white stripes,
Heart shaped, bordered with Heaven’s gold.
On the front,
George Washington’s profile in a sea of purple,
On the back,
“For Military Merit.”
It felt cool in my fist.
I clenched it,
Trying to find life,
The beginning of a prayer.
I squeezed the medal so hard
My palm bled.
I sensed a breeze, warm.
A voice, I didn’t notice on the prairie.
With each wisp of wind, I heard,
Reminding me, “I know.”
Every time the wind blew, a whisper,
I saw, I listened, I survived.
Johnny’s body stopped a bullet streaking for an Afghan girl;
A county’s future.
I wear the Purple Heart with pride,
Pinned over my own;
I leave the prairies to the tumbleweeds.
I spend a lot of time in the mountains,
Me and wind,
Standing on a great granite rock,