An American Valentine

His eyes are closed
and a tear
runs down his cheek
It gathers
in the filth on his face
makes soft mud there
His rifle
leans against his left shoulder
butt to the ground
its bayonet
gleaming hard and steel
through the liquid red
of new blood
running
running down
to stain the gray cloak
of his uniform

His eyes open
and he looks down and down
upon the body
of his just-slain enemy
Blue material
absorbs and hides
the blood much better
he thinks
laughs hysterically
He reaches inside the shirt
of the dead soldier
searching
sobbing
and there he finds
a large red paper heart
adorned with real lace
and fine spun glass
His weeping is absolute now
He falls to his knees
eyes to the sky
beseeching God

He reaches inside his own vest
discovers his own mortal wound
In each of his hands now
he holds a large paper heart
white lace
fine spun glass
and blood fresh of nation
He sees the inscription on each
identical:
“My dearest Johnny”
He bends down low
cries out in his pain
looks
into the dead eyes
of his enemy vanquished
face to face
moaning
live lips
to dead lips
Death’s embrace
he cries
dies

© 2005 Tom (WordWulf) SternerHowe

by Tom (WordWulf) SternerHowe

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