The Tug of War

My father awakens each day

Pulled into another reality

 Soggy rice paddies

Weather that rolls down the back

Huey roaring with rage, rescue ready

Medevac pilot lifting horror off the ground

Unseeable details in the logbook

One more high flight

“Kick the tires! Light the fires, and brief on guard!”

 The tug of war

 Lifelines that sustained him:

Tasting chain-smoked Winstons

War-time friendships that

Defy normal boundaries

Familiar voices from home

Arriving on open reel tape

Biting flies jerk him

Back to reality

 Vietnam and Life

Life and Vietnam

The tug of war continues

Like calloused hands gripping

The coarse rope of the mind

The pull of past ghosts

The tug to future ache

My mother’s scent is clean, fragrant

Her voice is knowing. She gently

Draws him back, anchors him

To their shared story: garage dances,

Bus stop walks, airplane ride coke dates

Jobs and houses, choices and loss

The memory of daughters

The laughter of grandsons


My father will choose my mother today

Choose us a thousand times, until tomorrow

When he awakens again

Kourtney Street