Martha L. Steinman

I am one of the wounded of Viet Nam.
Yet, no bullet pierced my skin;
  no shrapnel from a bomb
  made me the invalid I am.
My heart beats.  My eyes see.
I am more than a reflection
  of the man I used to be.
Inside.  Inside--I am me.
I am me.
Still, this truth--my truth cannot be told
  as words lost in some immeasurable abyss
  sound strange--so strange.
And lips, once warm and tender, feel cold,
 yet, yearn for true love’s kiss.
And, yes, I hear!
I hear those white-coat whispers.
 Aiming to erase this life I live,
   they give no respite from their wisdom,
I have nothing left to give.
Then  a voice--another voice--her  voice,
  with me from youth through not-so-tender years,
  shames these fools to quiet desperation.
And, I feel.  Oh! How I feel her tears
 and bear her cry
that God--and  God alone,
  shall appoint the hour in which I die.

By the grace of God,
 the world has turned many times since then.
Now, my riderless steed stands waiting at Arlington.
And, as time’s endless sea ends for me,
 I shall expire my one last breath,
 knowing: it was service in Nam
 that propels me toward this death.
It’s true.  I leave no stains of blood in that distant land.
Yet, the name by which I’m damned rings clear.
Listen!  Listen carefully and hear,
 as each new, mournful note of Taps is formed,
         Agent Orange,
                                           Agent Orange,
                                                                            Agent Orange…

© Martha L. Steinman
Home: Wheeling, West Virginia
I Am One of the Wounded  was written
in loving memory of my husband,
Col Charles A. Steinman, USA, Retired
I Am One of the Wounded was originally published in the December 2010, 50th issue, of Decanto