Another day

Another day out of sequence
in a mosaic portrait of Vietnam
painted with hazy images of
abandoned bunkers and rows of hootches
with no enemy insight
The lieutenant the point man and I
leave the platoon at ease and move
from bunker to hootch searching
for signs of life
From one to another we move
in stealth across the humus
floor of jungle decay
Empty cans of mackerel
and rice kernels
litter the early morning shadows
I listen to a quiet stillness
echo from empty bunkers
and imagine the laughter
and cries that filled their darkness
I imagine men huddled in their
protective cocoons of sandbags
and crumbling logs
fortifications to withstand
an aerial assault
as they think of family
and friends at home
I think of me in their world
and see no difference
and yet I know things are not
the same no matter how much
I want them to be
We find a trail along the perimeter
of the abandoned camp
and move along its winding mark
moving toward the rear
of our platoon unknowingly
Ten or fifteen edgy soldiers
huddled down on a trail
with orders to shoot and kill
and the lieutenant the point man and I
are moving toward their rear
I hear the clicked engagement
of bullet to barrel
and feel the death
I never knew
Staring down the barrel
of an M-60 locked, loaded
and filling the sights
of twelve M-16’s and
two M-79 grenade launchers
and I walk away

© 2006 Jim Cain