Bray McDonald The Veteran

I had been back home ten years

when I read in a history of the war

that the man I had killed that July morning

had been a teacher and poet.

He had been the only son of a poor farmer.

He had married young and raised four children.

I had been looking for information on him

since finding his name, some pictures,

and a notepad with three lines written on it

stuffed in his dirty and frayed knapsack.

When we shot each other that day

only his wound was fatal.

From where I lay bleeding

I watched him stare at me as if in disbelief

and then die.

I had the lines on the note translated

when I had recovered

and the words made me want to know about the man:

“this human acting the beast…

obeying the evil…

wasting…”


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