Once Upon my Feet
Our daughters sketched tango dancers
With red and black crayons.
At the early milonga they'd draw.
I always promised them both a dance,
Yet they would cut-in all the same.
"Daddy is it my turn now?"
The little one danced upon my feet.
But at any pause, she'd show her strength.
She'd clean her shoes on my pants,
And gancho with a smile.
Her older sister had grown into her own style.
She liked the sweep of her feet with mine.
"Daddy, barrida!" was her whispered cue.
And I obliged with a sweep or two.
They're gone now, and a man answers their phone.
My wife, just another not waiting for her soldier's return.
I dreamed of six arms holding me near the plane.
War was easier than watching other families embrace
And then returning to this empty place.
The tangueras who know me, know why
I need their embrace;
Why I hold their hands as I do,
Watching as theirs settles in mine.
They know my hurt and how their
Walking-embrace at times is my only solace.
Afterword: This is the last of three poems that I dedicated to veterans of combat.
- The first was a single man with PTSD.
- The second, a female soldier devastated by sexual assault of a battle comrade, whom she thought she could trust.
- And finally, this poem, a story of parental alienation.
Perhaps these poems are dark. War is dark. The nightmares and the two to four hours of sleep that combat vets often get make for a dark life. I do have hope and see wonderful changes, but the tides of oil-soaked souls keep coming up on my shores. I love my work, and I am NOT burned out from this work. I am invigorated by it. But do you know how tragic this is to have a nation at war; yet, too few know the real price? The malls are full of shoppers, even as we are at war and complain about having the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
I wish that our nation was as concerned and distressed over all of the oil covered souls washing ashore as much as the environmental devastation in the Gulf of Mexico.