Nancy L. Meek

AMONG THE ROSES

He was just a normal little boy
Playing for hours with his soldiers
Fighting battles on the floor
Enjoying nothing more
Than shooting shadows on the door

He thought of ways to make believe
Changing everything around him
A stick became his gun
Each battle always won
In the shining summer sun

He kept his slingshot in his pocket
Seeking out the perfect foe
Lying low in wait
Beside the garden gate
Where his victims met their fate

He lay among the roses there
Staring long at the neighbor’s cat
His muddy shoes unlaced
Elbows calmly braced
For the feline foe he faced

He could hear his mother’s warning
Ringing out inside his head
Watch my roses, son
Supper’s almost done
Yes, I know, you’re having fun

His target stopped dead in its tracks
Peering low to where he crouched
His slowly twitching tail
He swiftly did impale
Along the muddy garden trail

He heard his father’s pick-up truck
Pulling up beside the house
With a broad, toothless grin
He jumped and ran to him
His buddy through thick and thin

His father, beaming, picked him up
Asking, how’s my buddy doing
Did you have fun today
Is supper on its way
Let’s go inside, okay

He helped his mother set the table
Arranging everything just right
He tried so hard to please
Learning in small degrees
Saying prayers on dirty knees

His childhood toys he put away
Growing tall into a man
Marching to Heaven’s fife
Seeking an honest life
With children and a wife

He heard too soon the battle cry
Calling him to distant shores
Prepared, or so he thought,
For all that war had brought
So he served and so he fought

His innocence was left behind
Stepping off the chopper skids
There was no turning back
For things he did not pack
Or traits he may have lacked

He learned the meaning of pure hate
Something never taught in school
They wished to see him dead
Minus arms, a leg, a head
Forever filled with dread

He heard the bullets whizzing by him
Popping somewhere near his feet
Would this be the day
He would give his live away
In a world gone so astray

He fought back the hot adrenalin
Burning deeply within his chest
As he watched his buddy fall
Who once had stood so tall
Now without any legs at all

His turn came next among the chosen
Dropping down on dirty knees
Without a hiding place
Sweat rolling down his face
His gun still clutched in his embrace

He gave his life so others may live
Protecting them with all his might
With his very life and limb
From a future dark and grim
From Satan’s every whim

He said nothing as he fell in the garden
On that battlefield far away
The bullets came too quick
His very soul to pick
Blood growing cold and thick

He could not see or hear his buddies
Lying prostrate in the mud
Protecting him even after death
Still fighting to the death
With every lasting breath

He would never see his home again
His mother, father, daughter, son;
Leaving the battle to the rest
He had passed the test
He had given his best

He lay among the roses there
Staring up with hollow eyes
His job on earth now done
No more battles to be won
In the heat of the rising sun