Memories

Written by: Edmund Siejka

I used to pass an empty house 
On my way home from school
I was only ten years old then
I heard that older people lived
There
But I never saw them.

Found old photos 
Showed them to Dad
Where’d you get them he asked?
Found them in the old house I said
Then he and mother spoke 
In the privacy of their bedroom 
I saw the shadows of their arms 
Move 
And point toward my room 
This was the 1950’s
Times were different
And some things 
Were just never talked about. 

When the old house was torn down
I went inside
To look
And to explore
Kicking an odd piece of dirt
The soft rotted wood moved
And something flipped up
Bones
Some as big as my leg.
But it was the damp smell of decay
That I remembered
Vividly
Even at that time
When anything new 
Was always exciting
This was different
I had not experienced anything like this before
But I would years later
Ten years later
A decade to wait.

I was In Country
Two tours
Separated from my group
Never found
Missing in action
But really I’m dead 
Been like this for years
All that’s left
Of me 
Are bone fragments
Part of a femur
And a scratch of faded cloth 
Scattered over a vast green landscape
At the edge of a jungle.

Occasionally I hear digging sounds
Not the heavy shovel kind
But a gentle probing
Of earth 
Someone intent on finding something 
But not wishing to disturb
They haven’t found me
Yet
So I still wait.

I never got used to the damp smell of decay
But just the same I take solace
In that smell
Because it reminds me of
Long ago
When I was just a schoolboy
Coming home.