Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Pacemaker (poetry pantry 51)



Evening horizon appears bruised.
Sunlight slithers off, silently.
Darkness creeps, cougar-like,
Crisp shadows chill skin.

And then,

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,
Breath paralyzed,
Death stalks heart.

Collapsed to dust,
Curl in ball,
Frail, tumbleweed-like,
Wind rushes by.
Pray to roll away, roll away
Swoosh along prairie flat
To wherever tumbleweeds go.

But I lay like a stone;
A headstone,
Marking the end of my life.

My Johnny
Won’t be marching
Home again.

And then,

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,
Back then.

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,
A reason,
A power.
A hope.
The beginning of a prayer.
Anything.

And then,

I squeezed the medal so hard
My palm bled.
I looked.
I gasped.
I gazed.
I knew.

I sensed a breeze, warm.
A voice, I didn’t notice on the prairie.
With each wisp of wind, I heard,
“I Know,”
Reminding me, “I know.”
Every time the wind blew, a whisper,
“I know.”

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;
My pacemaker.

And now,

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,
Taking turns
Saying,
“I know.”

8 comments:

JL Dodge said...

Very Powerful... speaks to the heart of how we who have lost a loved one in battle feel !
Well done Henry !
JL&B

Olive Tree said...

oh my gosh...wow! bravo! I would love to hear this being read in a poetry reading. Truly, truly, a powerful work.

Victoria said...

This gives me the chills. I also have a Purple Heart from my dad who was killed in WWII. I never knew him. Powerful poem for memorial day.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Incredibly powerful and heartrending. I love "I spend a lot of time in the mountains, me and wind". One of the most moving poems I have ever read.Bless you.

Dave King said...

A fabulous blog: never two posts similar and every one fascinating. I shall have to return for a longer browse.

Fiducia said...

A heavy one to feel!!! Each line was striking me with a flawless feel!! The ending fell in place to the theme..I Bow to the one who faces any battle in life with vigor and reason!! Gr8 one..

Mary said...

How poignant. Thank you.

Marian said...

i'm with Dave King. whoosh.

I'm Just a Man (Recording Experiment ... I can't sing)

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