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Aging Memory

Strange, the aging memory dims.
Names falter at the tip of tongue,
my eyeglasses hide out of sight,
“I’m sure I left them here.”

Yet, the crashed plane, scattering
bursting bombs, I still hear.
The blinding flash tore the dark,
scarred my memory.

Reckless, leaping into the burning
wreck to rescue, stink of scorched
flesh, gasoline, fear and bile
choke my grasping throat.

Here’s one. Open mouth emits
no scream. The screamer’s dead.
Sprawled in grotesque repose
on his fiery bed. And five other
bombs waiting to explode.

I trip on a severed leg,
fall into a hideous embrace
with a headless youth.

Sure as fate, another blast
ten feet away, hurled into
ungainly flight, I’m deaf,
blind, no thinking now, I crawl
to newly hurt, shouting, “Get
out! Stay out!” In each body
I see myself.

Now, hair long gray, I sometimes
lose my way, ask, “What was my
errand. I forgot.” The things of now
slip away. Though fifty years have
come and gone, each drop of blood,
each shuddering gasp, stings
and sears the soldier’s reverie.

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