Eleven days after my twenty-fourth
Birthday, I lost a soldier. My gunner.
It was a Thursday; The sun was high
And the day was long. I bade him
farewell three days after he wished
His wife a happy Valentines day.
He told me I would be O.K. If I
Stuck with him – He knew the ropes.
Couldn’t be touched; even wore his
Spurs dead-man style – that’s with
The rowels ’round front of your boots,
Over the laces. Tempting fate was his thing.
I knew right then and there it wouldn’t
Be O.K. but in fact would be far from it.
And when my secret suspicion was sadly
Confirmed – the blood washed off but
The guilt settled into the marrow
Of my bones, where it resides for all time.
There is a feeling, very distinct
That no one should have to feel,
But does have to carry for life
When you order a man to his death.
Especially when you’ve just turned