The Bridge at Nasiriya

by Lisa Walsh Thomas | unknownnews.net | April 16 2003

For a pulsing moment
he cannot remember
whether he came from Georgia
or some place further inward,
a recruiting office,
Captain Tilly congratulating him,
painting murals inside his head,
promises of a noble heart to be saved
for heaven, a good spot there.

They rushed across the bridge like savages,
dark-skinned small enemies, wide-eyed
with fear or hate ?
like a suicide bomber.
Captain Tilly hadn't told him
the sound a child makes when she dies,
broken, on a bridge, irrevocably,
like a small turtle, stepped on.

The little girl is maybe five,
in a gold and orange dress,
colors for a party,
for a birthday, for a wedding,
a bit of her chest missing,
like his sister's lost earring,
like the missing lid of a coke bottle.
His gun has melted into his fingertips.

A dead girl in a bright dress...
He came here, one might think, to kill a child.
A girl rushing across the bridge
running from the sound of helicopters,
running the way danger slams through a paper wall
and he had never shot a bear,
even a rabbit, he who was
promised a proud heart to save for heaven,
and a good spot there.

An hour is made of a thousand crazy instances ?
An instance has a life of its own,
tells epics until you fall asleep from boredom.

He had never shot a sick dog
or a rabid skunk
but the child had run toward him,
a crazy instance,
like the frantic urge to tear out his own heart,
slash open the child and give her his,
still beating.

He will not remember this,
will not tell his cousin Billy,
who told him to go kick ass ?
He will not remember this,
will not tell his mother who has put up
yellow ribbons ?
He will not remember this,
his crazy instant of terror
as a child ran at him.
He will not remember this,
the sound of a soul brushing across one arm.
He will not remember this,
that he, in God's ledger,
is the victim.

He who never shot a rabbit
will not remember
which of them soared upward from life,
which of them stayed behind.
Lisa Walsh Thomas, a former arts columnist and veteran activist, is a regular contributor for several liberal, online publications. A book of her essays, The Girl With Yellow Flowers in Her Hair is to be published by Pitchfork Publishing by summer.

2003, by the author.
Comments? saavedra1979@yahoo.com

Posted by: nachoua on May 02, 03 | 5:36 am