Anthony W. Pahl

SURVIVOR

Scared? I was scared! Bloody Oath I was Scared!
But do you know the greatest thing that I feared?

It wasn’t the fear of being wounded or killed
(though the thought of it still makes my blood chill).
Nor was it the thought of killing a man
because in war you can kill or not kill and be damned.
It wasn’t the thought of leaving loved ones behind
or stepping on punji stakes or jumping jack mines.
Nor was it the fear of the silence of night
or the whistle if incoming from nowhere in sight.
Not the madness of battle;
not the carnage I saw;
not the mud mixed with blood
or the jungle’s dank core

But the death of a mate causes agony and grief
and steals part of my being like a cold-hearted thief;
and the festering thought that he might have survived
if I had done better,
done different,
had been at his side!

This is the fear that freezes my soul
This is the fear that weakens life’s hold
This is the reality that I must forgive
This is the weakness with which I must live.