"Operation Buffalo":Regret

We're being pounded by artillery, rockets, mortars and beau-coup small arms' fire. We know Bravo Company is wiped out, and it seems that Alpha Company is too. Soon they'll mass and assault our little perimeter and that will be the end of it. I've already prayed for my parents, my grandparents, my girl and my soul. Now I'm hoping I last long enough to kill lots of gooks. I've got everything ready: loaded magazines, my grenades laid out within reach, and I've fixed my bayonet. It's over 120 degrees and I feel as if I might just burst into flames. I'm so thirsty from the heat, from my nearly uncontrollable fear, but we've given all our water to the ever-increasing number of wounded. As I try not to think of my thirst and prepare for what I am certain is my impending death, I am suddenly overcome with profound regret. At this moment it seems unbearably sad and unfair that I will never taste a drink of cold water again.

copyright © 1996 by John Musgrave, from his book "Under a Flare-lit Sky: Vietnam Poems," all rights reserved.