Metal Of Honor
The passersby, oblivious to him,
by David Nelson Bradsher
were rushing home to families and fires
as he observed the winter gloaming dim
and fade into a February night.
He watched the bustling crowd; the grocery buyers,
executives convening for a bite,
and he remembered doing much the same
before he lost it all to something they'd
interpret in a way that they could blame
the man instead of tragic circumstance.
He thrust the coffee can, and asked for aid,
thinking of comrades and a beach in France
so many years ago. That scene was still
alive within him, freighting nothing but
the past, and the remembrance of a kill
that carried far beyond the current plane
of his existence. Shrapnel in his gut
was precious metal, and the daily pain
was his reminder of the sixty years
(or more) that had elapsed since he was merely
a frightened boy, still wet behind the ears,
waiting to wade into a storm of lead
from German guns that still resounded clearly
inside the tangled cobwebs of his head.
Each coin that dropped into his coffee can
was like the orchestra of ricochets
around him on the beach, where every man
expected nothing but his own demise.
He had survived, though, to complete his days
collecting coins, and scorn from narrow eyes.