Christina A. Sharik


I seem to have developed the uncanny
ability to be able to tell who is a vet or not.
I used to be afraid to ask, but when I started,
I was amazed at what I got…

Shocked looks, pleased looks, a look of thanks
I say “Welcome Home” and they nod or smile at me –
Such small words – we say after a trip to the beach –
Welcome Home, Welcome Back, not realizing how
powerful the words can be.

At the grocery store today, while parking, there
was a man sitting on the curb. For whatever reason,
I pulled back out and went to another space.
When I walked by him – he said, “Lady, I’d have moved”,
and I said that’s ok – I was afraid I’d run over you…
and he smiled. He had a nice smile, nice face…

Long blond hair but clean and combed
I wonder if he were resting or had no home
They bother me, when I see them so
It makes me sad when they’re alone.

Well, I went into the store and came back out
and he was on the other side of my car now –
I smiled and made some comment.
I finally asked the question: “Are you a Nam vet?”
He looked at me, startled, and said, “yes, ma’am,
How do you know?” And I said I just know.
I said Welcome Home and he nodded – I told him
my ex had been in Vietnam and my son was in the Army.
He said his son was in the Marines and
that “we” were still trying.
I said it just goes on and on –
and he said we tried, we sure did try
and now our kids are trying, too.
Said his son was overseas…I told him where mine had been.
Shook his head – said we just keep trying again and again.
I shook his hand.
He asked if I had been a nurse and I said no.
He asked if I knew any, ‘cause those women over there, whatever they did,
were angels. And I said I did know some women who served
and that I had spoken at the Moving Wall once.
He asked if I would
do it again and I said I would. I told him about my poems. He
said his friend had a computer – I told him to look up ArmyMom.
He said he would.
I wished him well.
I got into my car and as I drove away,
he stood up and saluted me.
I saluted back even though I don’t know how.
He is the one who provided the inspiration
for me to write what you have read just now.

Author’s Note: For the Vet at the Grocery Store