A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
past the VA hospital,
a cool and velvety night without foreboding,
when I saw him
form himself from the pavement,
gold center line and black paving
fleshing a skeleton and then,
dressed in jungle utilities,
he is running in a crouch
with his rifle thrust in front of him
across the road and into the tall grass
on the other side.
I slammed on the brakes
just in time to miss him.
Sat by the road and waited till
my heart slowed down
then pulled back onto the empty road
as if nothing had happened.
As if there’d never been a war.
As if my mind made things up
just to test the brakes.
Coming up on Halloween,
All Hallow’s Eve, Samhain,
Dia de muertos, the time
when the walls between the living
and the dead are thinnest.
Believe me, it has nothing to do
with Batman and candy corn.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen
the dead, more common than you’d think
among combat vets and no I’m not insane.
Don’t know what jogged my mind,
maybe the floater that troubles
my left eye, maybe a trick of light on pavement.
When my mother was dying
she claimed to have spoken
to people who’d been dead thirty years
as if she could see through the veil
and the rest of us could not.
I restrain myself forthwith
from naming mystery, to kill a live thing
with a term, to deny
that we become what we do,
soul heavy in the later years.
It hurts our knees but we keep moving,
humping a pack of the dead who won’t stay quiet.
Copyright 2015 Doug Anderson