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the picture

the picture

his hands were wrinkled and beaten with age
dirt and oil beneath his cracked fingernails
a black and white photograph clutched in his hand
with a letter he never mailed

1968 was a good year for some
and for others not the same
but the old man held his photo tightly
and squeezed the envelope with his girlfriend’s name

every day that passed he wished he had sent it
but now, decades later, it would mean nothing at all
especially since her name was etched in stone
one of too many on the vietnam memorial wall

he looked at the worn and crinkled photo 
as he finally tossed the never-mailed letter away
then placed the creased picture back in his wallet
and with tearful eyes, wished for words he could never say

Copyright © wayne tolbert

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