Christina A. Sharik

JULY 4, 1985

Our town is having a parade today
in honor of Vietnam vets.
I think it’s time
and I have no regrets.

Your son wanted to wear your jacket;
the one with the map; the one
with all the strange names
sewn on the back;
Ton Son Nhut, Khe San, Da Nang
Green silk sewn with black.

So we took our flags, your son and I,
and got ourselves a spot.
I felt my throat constrict
anticipating what and whom we’ll see,
remembering how it was
for you and me.

Then it began. The horses, fire trucks,
Majorettes marched by –
The Brownies and the Boy Scouts, too.
The ladies’ auxiliary, the Golden Agers –
The men from World War II –
and finally, police cars, and kids on bikes;
But there were none of “you”.

No vets, no vets from ‘Nam –
How could there be none?
Every little town had some;
someone must have gone.

We hung the coat in the closet
and I was sad. I went to bed
and then you called –
“Too little, too late.” you said.

I disagree.

There were people there to honor vets –
and one of them was
me.