Nancy L. Meek

HOW CAN I UNDERSTAND?

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: December 31, 2004
Awarded: December 31, 2004
How can I begin to fully understand
what went on in that foreign land
if you won’t agree to talk with me,
spill your reluctant guts to me
so I can see the things you saw,
things that have stuck in your craw
while over there in that jungle lair
where nothing in life seemed fair;
where dead snipers hung mangled,
like mortal ragdolls of war, dangled
in the hottest putrid sticky breeze,
still attempting to blend with the trees,
their limbs against nature oddly angled,
dripping their blood becoming entangled
in your hair, your face, your clothes.
O, nobody can ever know, I suppose
what it was like to watch them die
wrestling with the relentless, “Why?”

How can I remotely grasp the feeling
of the guilt still inside you reeling
if you won’t describe how it truly was
as you heard those choppers buzz,
riding in to whisk the injured away,
truly not making your bloody day
knowing that some would not survive
no matter how hard your medics strived;
as you wondered why it was not you
being borne away into the open blue
bleeding, dying, already dead maybe;
as your weary heart cried like a baby,
the mixed emotions tearing your hair,
truly not wanting to go back in there
into the belly of the beast called war;
then again, wanting to settle the score.

What is it, really, that you are afraid of?
That maybe I will glean just enough
that I will hurt inside as much as you;
absorb the horrors you’ve been through;
vicariously travel back with you there;
see what you’re seeing through that stare
buried in the back of your mind forevermore,
like taboo things concerning the war,
the enormous impact on you till this day
that makes you insist on pulling away
from these arms just wanting to hold you,
from my heart just wanting to enfold you
as I continue to tread on needles and pins
war making a bed where no one ever wins
or can sleep in peace without some price;
for your deep thoughts, locked in that vice,
are a sacrifice I am sure I will never know,
secrets withheld because you love me so.