Anthony W. Pahl

PILGRIMAGE

He touched the name with gentle hands and quelled a sigh of pain
and was transported back in time to when there was no stain
upon his memory or his soul; when his best friend was still alive
and laughter marked their friendship until that laughter died
on fields of ungodly battles in a different place, a different time.
And only one friend made it home… life’s purpose in decline.

Meandering forlornly through the years, no reason, want or will;
surviving simply on the strength of a wife who loves him still,
despite the pain and knowledge that his life, he valued less
than the soft and gentle hands that held his heart and caressed
the raw and open wounds that it seemed he could not forget
and that seemed so steeped in poison – the poison of regret.

But now he touches the name with gentle hands and softened heart
and with his wife beside him, he knows it is finally the start
of the end four decades of quest to return from war to peace.
The spirits of these old young friends thank God for their release.
(And one more voice is quietened after whispering his name
and his spirit quietly leaves The Wall – his friend is home again.)

And heard by friends who stood nearby, (and know the miracle of The Wall)
Ron’s words were clear, “You’re home my friend; I’m needed here no more.”

The Wall: Ronald Ralich

The Wall Rubbing: Ronald Ralich

Author’s Note: Dedicated to my dear friend, Richard D. “Boondocker” Preston and written to commemorate our joint pilgrimage to The Wall in Washington DC on June 12, 2004, and the miracle of that pilgrimage.

Submitted for the September 2004 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “Regret