A Veteran

I was a nurse in the Army,
you know, during the war.
World War II. It’s easy
to forget there have been
other wars, because that’s
the one I saw with my own
eyes, the one where I
sewed up wounds with
barely enough anesthetic,
and nothing, nothing at all
to take the real pain away.

At night, sometimes, all
the boys would lie awake,
raving, still hearing bombs
even though all was quiet
then. You don’t know what
quiet is, or noise, until
you’ve been the only one
in her right mind on the ward
at night, all the doctors
off somewhere else,

sleeping, I guess, or else
forgetting in ways I never
could. I was allowed to
give something to help
those broken boys sleep,
and sometimes I did,
when a needle seemed
kindest. More often,
though, I sang lullabies,
asked about mother,
sweetheart at home,
patted the place where
a hand used to be.

Funny thing is, sometimes
I could feel the gone hand
squeezing mine. I still can.

I still do.

 

For NaBloPoMo and PAD Challenge, Day 11 (prompt: a poem from a veteran’s point of view).

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4 thoughts on “A Veteran

    • Thank you so much, Waffle! I like to do a persona poem now and then and see if I can get inside someone else’s mind. I know there were many, many women who had experiences like this, and it was a long time before nurses were recognized as officers.

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