Welcome to a New Reality (Combat)
At once, in an instant,
How peaceful everything became
A pale shroud covered my life.
The only memory of reality,
My pounding, racing heart
Echoing throughout my body.
Sleep, deep sleep, ever restful sleep
Was coming upon my senses.
The warmth of a lazy, summer afternoon,
A gentle, cooling breeze across my face;
A powerful drug had anesthetized me.
The dry rice field became my bed,
A few grass stems, a protective mat,
My steel helmet, my pillow,
My green, worn and soiled uniform, a blanket,
Yes, I shall rest here and not be awakened.
In the far distance, I hear muffled sounds
Of jungle boots running, ruck sacks dropped
(Rifle shots fired, shouts of air support)
Yes, nothing will disturb my sleep
Ever deeper, I sink into my restful abyss;
How wonderful this place called nothing.
Death must be like this slumbered feeling;
A simple going away from all things;
How warm. content, and peaceful
To drift away on a light summer's breeze
And not even care to look back.
Suddenly, an abrupt jolt, anguished yells
Of spirit returning to the hardened flesh;
A man and life made real again;
The pale shroud of bliss brushed aside.
Arise young soldier, now face your task,
A new reality* has come upon you.
*(Da Nang Valley, South Vietnam, Tet Offensive, February, 1968.)
Alan Charles Bennett, 68
21206 N. Camelia
Lake Forest, CA 92630