Nancy L. Meek

THE COUGH

Deep in the jungle,
I can hear a bird,
the crunch of boots,
a foreign word;

a hiding heart pumping,
its red blood racing,
breathing… relieving,
his destiny facing;

his teen lungs working
in… then out, in… then out,
the rustle of dry leaves
whirling… swirling about;

another bird, calling,
a whispered prayer,
a gook’s eyes searching
for anyone there;

a muscle flenching,
grass blades bending,
a twig snapping,
the crickets unending;

the enemy peering,
leaning… poking,
bayonet gleaming,
silent… provoking;

a sun slowly dying,
a cough… then another,
the enemy twirling,
detecting our brother;

a wet barrel pointing,
its trigger squeezed,
the bullets… life ending
the war gods appeased;

a grunt’s mother weeping,
her desperate prayer,
imploring the heavens,
“Is anyone there?”