- Pulse - https://pulsevoices.org -

Fourteen Months

from your ship in Vietnam.
Love letters.
Six pages in one of them
on the thin Navy stationary,
listing the ways you loved me.

Two months into your tour break
home with me at Pearl Harbor
you were suddenly a tiger, pacing.

I cramped your space.
You stayed with me
only because you promised.
Our apartment became webbed
with your anger.

Butterflies flew from my chest,
fluttering out of your reach
into the fragrant Hawaii air.

Back on the ship, letters
arrived in thick bundles, claiming
you would make those days up—

but you were the same when
that tour was over.
Neither of us knew then that PTSD
could knock a man off-kilter
even on a relatively safe ship in the DMZ.

I finally had to leave the angry indifference.

You’re dead two years and a half now,
both of us remarried,
but I still grieve you.
How I loved you.

Poems spill out
like the turning tide
you rode on then and ride
again now, touching me
occasionally within our shared
Vietnam of the soul.