Christina A. Sharik

WHO ARE ‘YOU’?

Bronze Helmet Award: January 2003Someone said I shouldn’t write poems for “you”
He said, “Who are ‘you’ to write about us –
you don’t know ‘us’
you cannot understand.”
No, I wasn’t there first hand
and I can’t really know what you
went through –
But I did know some of you.

You were David – my friend’s boyfriend –
we were 16 and you were 18 – and when
you left, you gave me a letter
for me to give to her, “in case” –
I hid the letter in my jewelry box,
and lived in fear for one whole year –
So for me it all began
when David left for Vietnam.

Oh, I remember “you” –
You were the black guy on the
bus in Philadelphia – in uniform –
staring out the window.
I spoke to you – and you said you
were leaving for Vietnam – again.
I wished you well –
You smiled at me and winked.
I wrote a poem for you
but you never knew.

You were my husband
and you left a wife and child behind
when you came back, you weren’t you –
you were the one I never really knew.

You were my high school boyfriend
until I moved away.
Years later, divorced,
I thought of you one day.
I called and got your mom.
But before she put you on the phone,
She said you’d been wounded in Vietnam.
You couldn’t seem to remember me
but I remember you.

And you were my friend’s baby brother.
He and I were catching up on old times
a couple of years ago –
and he said “my little brother’s dead, Chris –
Sid’s dead – did you know?
He’d been a medic – two tours in ‘Nam
But he was killed at home.
and it just about killed my mom.”

You’re the POW I wore a silver bracelet for –
I watched you get off a plane; you came home,
you came back from war.

You’re the nurses and the donut dollies
I have met since the war –
ALL the women who served,
both at home and afar –

You were my father, husband, pen pal,
my brother, my sister, my friend –
You are my son, and every young one
Serving today, at home and away
I carry you with me now, as I did then –
With pride and awe,
respect and sadness;
with heartfelt admiration,
and sometimes silent tears.
I will remember “you” always,
for all of my years.

Author’s Note: I am the Descendant of Revolutionary War Veteran, Civil War Veteran (CSA); Granddaughter WWI veteran, Daughter (and niece) of WWII Veterans, Formerly DIL of WWII WAVE; Ex-wife of Vietnam Veteran, Aunt of Marine LCPL Dustin Haskell; and Proud Mother of Army Staff Sergeant Michael T. Ream, presently serving.

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