Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remember: Veterans Day, Nov 11, 2009

Thalia Fields lies under a grey ceiling of clouds,
just under the turbulence, with anesthetics
dripping from an IV into her arm,
and the flight surgeon says The shrapnel
cauterized as it traveled through her
here, breaking this rib as it entered,
burning a hole through the left lung
to finish in her back, and all of this
she doesn’t hear, except perhaps as music—
that faraway music of people’s voices
when they speak gently and with care,
a comfort to her on a stretcher
in a flying hospital en route to Landstuhl,
just under the rain at midnight, and Thalia
drifts in and out of consciousness
as a nurse dabs her lips with a moist towel,
her palm on Thalia’s forehead, her vitals
slipping some, as burned flesh gives way
to the heat of the blood, the tunnels within
opening to fill her, just enough blood
to cough up and drown in; Thalia
sees the shadows of people working
to save her, but she cannot feel their hands,
cannot hear them any longer,
and when she closes her eyes
the most beautiful colors rise in darkness,
tangerine washing into Russian blue,
with the droning engine humming on
in a dragonfly’s wings, island palms
painting the sky an impossible hue
with their thick brushes dripping green…
a way of dealing with the fact
that Thalia Fields is gone, long gone,
about as far from Mississippi
as she can get, ten thousand feet above Iraq
with a blanket draped over her body
and an exhausted surgeon in tears,
his bloodied hands on her chest, his head
sunk down, the nurse guiding him
to a nearby seat and holding him as he cries,
though no one hears it, because nothing can be heard
where pilots fly in blackout, the plane
like a shadow guiding the rain, here
in the droning engines of midnight.

Brian Turner
From his book of poetry, Here, Bullet, about his wartime experiences in Iraq.

Remember also the family of James Clifford McKittrick.
They are still waiting for him to come home.
I'm still waiting to send them my POW-MIA bracelet.

Remember also Barry Lynn Brown. I escorted his flag-draped coffin home to his family.
Captain Barry Lynn Brown, Killed in Action, Vietnam, May 5, 1968

Remember also Joseph Ambrose, a World War I veteran, holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who had been killed in the Korean War.


layers said...

very VERY powerful writing and imagery-- perfect for the day as we remember and honor..

Anonymous said...

thank you d.
(and s)