James H. Smith

WORDS OF RETURNING
A Letter Poem

In the ocean of time, as long as there has been man and wars, men have gone to war while women wait at home. The lucky will return to the woman who waited. Many who go simply will not return. Yet those who return often find they are a stranger unto themselves. Unable to tell the woman just how special she is to him. So he tries to tell her in the only way he has talked to her in months or perhaps years, with a letter. So how many letters like the one below were read or not and being either, changed the lives of the ones they touched?

Adrienne

I have been away from home for many a month now. I was called like so many others to fight in a war not of our own making, but one that we all knew could not be ignored. As you know, I led many young men away with me when I went; some have returned some never will. I will carry the ones who did not with me forever. Now my first day back, I feel most a stranger in my own home as if I no longer belong. I know I’m not the first, nor will I be the last to think or feel this way. So I write this, for it’s something I must someday say to you, but am unable to now, for I’m now a stranger, not so much to you, but to myself.

I feel it’s almost sad that all these months I have been away; my only way of talking to you was to write you a letter. Now I’m my first day home and I sit in the half dark writing to you again by candle light as if I’m still gone; when there you stand only steps away in the other room.

When I laid my eyes on you this day, the feeling went through me that no matter the time, I had never nor would ever see anything or anyone so beautiful. As I held you in my arms, I knew I was holding the part of me that has been missing all these long months away.

I know, I’m not the same man who went away so many months ago. The lines in my face are deeper; my eyes seem to look out at the world from a place far away. I knew you felt this when we first touched today. I not only saw the happiness in your face, because of our coming home. I also saw the sadness in your eyes when you looked into mine, for you felt the hurt now living inside of me. It is so good to be home, but somehow it doesn’t seem right spending the night under a roof.

Then tonight as we sat talking by the fire, with only the fire light and a few candles, everything just hit me. The hurt, the coming home, the relief it’s all over and I started to cry. I thought what she must think; my first night at home and I’m crying like a baby.

You reached out, took my hand, and pulled me across to you. I fell to my knees on the floor buried my face in your lap and sobbed, all the time clutching my arms around your legs as a small child holding to its mother.

And what do you do? You hold my head slowly stroking it with your hands as you rock me back and forth, saying all the time. It’s ok now, it’s ok, you’re beside me again, and you’re at last home.

Thank you my dear for being here. I have often said you know and understand me better than I know myself. I think about you always, day or night you are never more than an eye blink away from my thoughts.

So why do I write this now? I will put it away and perhaps someday after I’m gone you shall find it and understand how very special you are. Or perhaps we will read it together, someday and remember; someday when I again find myself.

If there be time, no matter where we are, or over our years to come, no matter who we become, I shall always love you. Loving you is not just something I do, it’s who I am. There is just simply no other way I can be.

And days will come when you no longer feel beautiful. That’s when I wish to be the one close to remind you, how truly beautiful you are.

Alyxander