Summer 1996 • Vol. XVIII No. 3/4 PoetryJuly 1, 1996 |

The Middle Years

We memorized each other's eyes before Saigon, casting for bass after dark, hearing the splashand battle in the shallows. Driving back, we watched hawksglide over pifion and spruce and disappear. I rode the brakes around steep switchbacks. Centuries slid past the last wide turns. We saw black granite cracked by juniper roots, the bark sloughed off, stumps twisted by winds. Woodcarvers rub for weeks to groove the grainthat smooth-rings around woundsgrown perfect, curves no lathe could turn. So many years, and not one friend comes back.I've been to the wall and rubbed my fingers on their names, faces in polished granite. Now, we watch the dawn and let the sun sustain us halfway between the Gulf of Mexico and mountains. Nothing on these flat plains is like the war,except sometimes asleep. Good neighbors offer fruitfrom gardens on rationed water. Even our dogsfeel at home. They raise wet muzzles to the moon and howl at stars so far away they stare.

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