by Nancy Fowler
His spinal cord severed, just below his shoulders.
The grip on his machine gun lost, as he fell
into the waving grasses. Other bullets danced
up and down his legs for fun. Flown home
for Christmas to live in a Stryker bed, turned over
and over like a roasting pig, to stop the advance
of weeping bed sores. So, like other such heroes,
he drank, a lot. Bottles served and removed
by hospital aides. No one cared he wasn’t twenty-one.
Until someone did, and she told him
if he drank like that there would be
no more visits, at least from her, and
she meant it. Later they were married.
He went back to school, learned to drive
with a hand shift, got a good job with the VA,
and angled for bluefish, wheelchair secured
to the deck. Once a year, near the anniversary
of his time near Da Nang, he spent three days
alone, in a comfortable hotel room with services
for those disabled, and remembered.
Then he went home.
Nancy Fowler was born in Boston, but recently moved to California after 17 years on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Her writing reflects on both the natural and social world. It asserts that acknowledgement of a specific place, feature, person is the first step in understanding, respect and love. Her work has previously been published in Tidepools, Songs of the San Joaquin, Naugatauk River Review, Cirque, and other journals.