In the town square,
shadowed by Town Hall
and small beads of commerce,
a cold stone grays my old uniform:
vintage helmet with strap
dangled from one turned edge;
conclusive fatigue jacket, pocketed,
short-skirted, web-belted at the waist,
bandoleer and grenades
pendulous as after-thought
decorations across the breathless chest;
bulky fatigue pants, bloused into stone boots,
the pockets I bet still rich
with letters, pictures, a spoiling condom
making a circle the size of a silver dollar
on a soft leather wallet, a pair of brass knuckles
for weekend survival.
The sculptor did not dare
to grave the rifle free, chipped it closer
to the heart than it was meant. He should
have carved him armless,
walking into dreams, the firefight
passed into another valley, the last shot
beginning a final crusade, the walk up the grand
and glorious avenue of stares.
When the snow falls in silent employment
and buries the stone of his son, a father,
three wars wearied, jaw slack, forgets to breathe.
I feel a shiver
where the cold star lies,
and a heart beat, a heart beat.
All these acts wind down to their source.