Birgit Bunzel Linder

Freshman - 526 Points (Oberhausen, Germany)

Wounded Soldier - Poem by Birgit Bunzel Linder

Saturday,13 April 1982, at 23: 35,
on a dimly lit street near Duck Pond Park-
a stout man hobbles
over cobble stones welling grey
like the coal dust from Jacobi IV.

His gaze fixed yet listless,
he stumbles over his own
shiny brown orthopedic boots,
like a top's last tumbles.
Tenfold his apparition in the rain.

Whether it is Beck's or Jägermeister,
Russian or German captivity,
a denied daughter or a violent son,
loneliness or unbearable guilt,
or the angry wife at home,

I cannot tell
when I bike home from holy church,
the night before Resurrection morn,
and divert my eyes from the shoes
I had polished just yesterday.

At 23: 43, behind firmly shut screens,
I shield my war-torn ears with cotton.
But the heart beats its drum roll
and the mind marches on
to the battle front in Hilltop Lane #13.

At 23: 59, the doorbell rings into the dark,
its echo soon pierced by porcelain on stony steps.
Gold-rimmed plates, the last of my dowry,
shimmer in shards under the unmoved moon.
On Easter Day, we go to church, and I rise
first, to shine the blood off his shoes.

Topic(s) of this poem: alcoholism, family life, loneliness, war memories, war veterans

Form: Free Verse

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, January 23, 2016

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