Monica L. Murphy

THE SOLDIER AND HIS SISTER

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: November 9, 2004
Awarded: November 9, 2004
People always ask her, “Have you noticed any change?”
She doesn’t always know quite what to say.
When she tries to ask him he tells her that he’s fine.
But something’s weighing heavy sometimes on his mind.

He still laughs with all his friends but there’s a sadness to his eyes;
And she knows he’s remembering another place and time.
Her oldest child went to war over a year ago;
God in all His mercy brought the soldier home.

It seems if anything his sister is the one;
Who brings out the differences in the woman’s son.
His sister is a teenager, already beautiful;
Active in church, a cheerleader at school.

The fights have started between them as she tries to test her wings;
Big brother acts more like a father and questions all her friends.
The fights came to a head one night she screamed, “You’re not my dad!”
He just looked at her and said, “I’m second in command.”

Mom stepped in and said, “Honey – it’s okay.
Your sister is a good girl and knows how to behave.”
He looked at both of them as if something would be said,
Then shrugged his shoulders and went instead to bed.

It was about 2 a.m.; she was awakened by a scream;
She ran into his bedroom; he was having a bad dream.
Still he would not tell her what was going through his mind.
Always the same answer, “Mom, I’m doing fine.”

Then one day while at the store they ran into a friend;
A kind gentleman; an older veteran.
The two men stood in silent camaraderie;
While the soldier’s sister turned to Mom with a young girl’s plea.

“Can I stay tonight with Susie and help her baby sit?
Her mom is going out and we’re working on a project.”
Before Mom could answer the young man said, “No way;
Just bring the kids to our house and we can play some games.”

The older man looked at him and said, “Let’s take a walk;
We’ll go grab some coffee and have a little talk.”
With a thank you in her eyes the mother watched them walk away;
Let him open up to him she silently prayed.

She never knew what happened between the two that day;
But his attitude towards his sister slowly began to change.
He’s still protective of her and probably always will be
When young men come to call on her they get the third degree.

The nightmares come and go but the soldier doesn’t share;
And sometimes by his silence she can tell he’s “over there”.
The only clue she’s ever been given to their sibling fights;
Was when he called out during a dream one night.

She tried to wake him up he was calling his sister’s name;
Confusing her with someone else he seemed to take the blame.
“Mama, I can’t save her there are just too many bombs.
Don’t let her go out tonight she may not come home.”

Her son seems to pay an unknown debt to a girl far away;
By always watching over his sister and vowing to keep her safe.
People always ask her, “Have you noticed any change?”
She doesn’t always know quite what to say.