Nineteen Seventy-Three: A Memory

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and I was thinking about all the veterans I’ve known over the years, starting with my dad, who was probably the first veteran I knew personally. Eventually, I came to remember one named Kevin. And started writing this. Wherever you are now, Kev, all these decades later, I hope you’re okay.
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1973

Make love, not war
was what everyone said
back then, becoming, when we met,
our private joke, our secret portent,
you, in fact, a big man on campus,
six foot five in sneakers,
me, six foot two in platform shoes,
dancing.
Was it only that
it was easy for us
to see each other
above the crowd?
I used to joke
that I was drawn to you
because you were ‘an older man,’
not by much, but still,
twenty-four was ‘old’
for a sophomore.
Hah, you’d say,
only decent thing they did
since they signed you up
for the Marines,
sent you to ‘Nam,
scrambled your brains,
and discharged you, honorably,
least they could do
was pay for college
so you could try
to fill your head
with something else.

And so we made
love not war,
time and again,
you like a blanket
over me, muscle, sinew, skin,
listening
to Pink Floyd’s latest album,
over and over,
those apt lyrics,
those soaring vocals
matching our urgent
heartbeats, our quickened breath
wave for wave, until we crashed
into climax, your body melting
onto mine, when suddenly,
your psyche —
triggered perhaps by heat,
sweat,
adrenaline,
our tropical explosion —
would steal away,
your head,
filled again
with dark forebodings,
and I would be alone
with your body, now empty
as a spent mortar shell,
while the music played
‘I’ll see you on the dark side
of the moon.’

We didn’t have
a name for it then.
Shell shock
was the old name from
the war to end all wars.
You never told me
where you went
but I guessed
the general locale if not
the wretched details. I didn’t want
to think too much
about why
it was our coupling
that sent you off,
too frightened
to wonder why
making love
reminded you
of making war. I just
hung onto you
as if your life depended on it,
waiting for the moment
you’d return, relieved
that you did
return, wordlessly,
your mouth against my neck,
refusing to whisper,
silent as the smoke
rising from a field of ashes.



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This entry was written by Kathi, posted on Sunday, May 24, 2015 at 06:05 pm, filed under Art & Music, Cognitive Dysfunction & Depression, Life & Mortality and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

3 Responses to “Nineteen Seventy-Three: A Memory”

  1. […] warm welcome to the weekly round-up to Kate and welcoming Kathi back to the blogosphere this week; also Flo, though sad to read about her broken heart; and Nancy […]

  2. Kathi,

    Wow. This is a magnificent poem and wonderful tribute. I’m so glad to be reading your posts again.

    xo

  3. Thank you, Beth! I was just about to settle down & catch up with your posts, too. Your kind words are much appreciated. I used to write a lot of poetry. Need to write more. xoxo

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