Vietnam Wall

Written by: Beth Watkins

The black wall reflected my white-washed skin 
and disheveled jacket, above the chattering din...
Loosly lopsided glasses hang limply on my face,
Cold, dark, black, they somehow seemed to fit this place. 
The smooth memorial seemed to stretch on,
Longer than death itself;a banner, a chord, an unsung hero's song.

                               ...

Memories race through my unsettled mind, 
The dense rainforest reverberates right behind...
Exploding artillery, I see several comrades fall down.
They lay moaning or silently still on the densely foliaged ground.
Like tin soldiers, “Playing dead,” I force myself to believe 
Trying to dam the tide of fear, for death is all I see.
“Will, help!" a young and bloodied soldier calls to me.

Hands gruffly grabbed my shoulder; I meet my commander’s steely eyes,
Torn, bruised, and bloody... I could see he wasn't surprised.
“We won’t survive with extra baggage. Retreat to the copter, now!” 
He hollered hollowly, his featured in a ragged, downcast bow.

Pondering quickly: Die a hero? Or forever regret today? 
Without a hesitation, I hoisted that young man up right away.
He seemed light, until I picked up another, fallen on the beaten path.
The odds were all against me; flying bullets unfurled their wrath.
Lifting yet another, I wrapped him silently around my tired arm.
The day I died, two comarades were saved and taken away from harm.

                               ...

And for a single breathless moment, I thought that I had seen myself,
In the teary-eyed man reading these lost names all by himself.
Now and forever, my name will be a simple written sprawl. 
An etching in a stone, a memoir to this black unyielding wall.


Beth Watkins
3/7/11
~Dedicated to those heroes who have died to defend our freedom.~