On the Front Lines
I was there. That day. We stared each other down across the lines. A decade later I wondered where he was, although I could still see the bright green clarity of his eyes. The lucidity of fear. We were the same, and yet we would kill each other in an instant, without an exhale.
Regret comes later.
I learned courage there. I learned of death as I watched them burn. Death choked me as I watched others drown in the sea, later-- and far away, covered by NBC.
I imagined myself shooting... killing. For patriotism...?...for "my country"...?
Yet I still see his eyes, envisage his brown skin, warm. We are the same, but I will kill him without an exhale. Without an exhale. Without an inhale. And I find, these decades later, that I cannot complete that inhale or exhale. It is shortened -- sliced to quarters.
Shallow, so shallow, just like my life is now.
For everything, now, in the present, is thin and transparent. This present life does not seem to exist; ghostly, people move through each other and through me, I see them through the surface--they are always far away and muddled in their proximity. I remain underwater, looking up through the blurred ripples; cold, untouchable, knowing.
That "patriotism" formed a monster of desire in me -- a desire to bleed. I welcomed all enemies, for I would mow them down with my "patriotism". I became both omnipotent and ignorant in my allegiance, as my friends died beside me for The Cause.
Those Green Eyes follow me today
... to date...
and I sing your song of farewell and youth.
Not much later, many miles away in the safety of warm relations, frying bacon, outdated carpet, and brightly-lit Christmas trees, I watched others of our kind burn and drown, a world away. I read of deaths and struggle and justified rebellion in black-and-white print.
The pictures were in color, though.
I still wonder why the print was set black on a striated-creamy white background of newsprint, while death was splattered in color. I can taste the saltwater of the drowned.
The painful winter before, we regaled each other in that plaza with songs and guitar of the Eagles and Scorpions:
"Welcome to the Hotel California.. such a lovely place..." and, "Is there really no chance to start once again? I'm still loving you..."
In that circle of warm welcome, I learned to embrace other songs, foreign to my tongue.
A season later, I watched you all burn.
I watched others drown.
I became drenched in my own rage and sputtered in helplessness.
I still suffocate 3 decades later.
Yet I seek out your green eyes.
And I thank you for that one bright memory among the Horrors.
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