Flashback

Flashback

Your cry pierces my sleep
like a shotgun blast,
a small circle of impact exploding
into a familiar pattern of panic.

I often hear this cry,
shrill and unnatural
like the war itself,
a never-ending strip of negatives
reprinting themselves
over and over in your mind
when sleep catches you off guard.

What images haunt you now—
dead babies in the river?
the shot-away face of a girl
your daughter’s age?
the fixed stare of a dead buddy
I never met?

This unrelenting jungle
has always stood between us;
we always reach delicately
around it to embrace;
our words never walk together
that forbidden ground.

This split second
is as close as we ever come:
you cry out and I waken
I know not to touch,
but I say your name
to rout the deadly dream.

You mumble “thanks”
and turn over.
I curl myself around you,
trying to feel your body
through the dense foliage
between us.


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