First Week

In monsoon rain we trudge to the wood line
A growling truck behind.
Past no-man’s-land
Past the comforting sight of sand bag bunkers
We call out, hear the muted password
See them step from the green.
Now, step back, see for yourself the kindness
Of soldiers I will never forget:
A sweated quartet, one man posted
To each loose limb,
See how gravity tugs at the flung back neck
The jolly flopping head. Drags the sad
Torso down, down. In the beating rain
Two lines form between the dead man–
The purring truck.
In the wordless muck we pass the warm corpse
Hand to hand, as if he were a fire brigade bucket.
Look at him:
Behold foul steam rising from jungle fatigues.
Rain bitten, the large brown eyes, unblinking.
See this handsome man, slender, black
Thrust into the truck, lugged back to base,
His last day in Cambodia.


Marc Levy

photo: Delta 1/7 First Cav Sgt. Alphoso Gamble Sr. on LZ Ramada. Phuc Vinh 1970