Army Mom’s Safe Haven

BARBARA PIATT

Barbara Piatt: Khe Sahn April

KHE SAHN APRIL

It began today as it does each year
that thunk of the mortar in my head
calls me to this vigil
the mortar knows the time,
not I
and faithful to its purpose clear
it signals me the hour is near
the countdown has begun
deep in myself, I turn from all
that is without; I walk and speak
but am not present here
I move suspended now
far off
responsive only to that call
the silent passage of its fall
a round the wind has won
my body now a hollow space
full of the thunder of my heart
sweep hand seconds measure
out the next few days
and I
see ahead the target in its place
see the look on his lover's face
and it's thirteen seconds before 1:00
(Thirteen...twelve...eleven...ten
nine...eight...seven...then)
I try to warn, oh, god, please run
he cannot hear but turns his head
as if he searches for some tug at
his attention
and he
takes off the helmet...
(Four... three...two...)
From the sun,
the mortar falls,
my heart beats one
and then the thing is over.
Done.

©Copyright by Barbara Piatt: Vietnam Veteran