Anthony W. Pahl

BRIDGE FROM THEN TO NOW

He left his kith and kin
to go and fight a war;
He left New Hampshire’s heart
and sailed to a foreign shore.
He left behind, he knows not where,
His childhood memories and childish care.

Lebanon, New Hampshire, in his heart
was relegated to his forgotten past.
He walked the walk of all brave men
but couldn’t find his way back again
for the demons of a war made sure
that warmth and comfort were no more.

For thirty years he roamed the land
of his birth – but like quicksand
returning home eluded yearning grasps
and the aches of lost time slowly pass.
Winter froze his mind and soul
and spring thawed the icy mould;
Summer warmed his soul once more
Until Autumn carried him back to war

Perchance, a Christmas gift of grace
allowed two warriors to come face to face.
From times of war to a time of peace
both veterans were able to find release
on a Bridge honouring all Vietnam Vets;
a span that exists so that none forget.

And for that span, he’d searched so long;
from covered bridges and wooden logs
to war and hate, and terrible hurts
where youth departs and blood converts
innocence into a mire of blood
in hearts and minds, like a raging flood.

The bridge we found, he and I,
brought us home, now we can cry;
a cry of hope and joy, not pain
for we, both, are back home again.

Author’s Note: Written for and dedicated to my dearest friend in the world, Richard “Boondocker” Preston, and in memory of a long weekend in December 2001 which was the culmination of two years of dreams and the start of a life-time of memories and joy for both of us. The Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Bridge spans the Connecticut River and connects Lebanon, New Hampshire and White River Junction, Vermont