I walk into the back hall, stop, bend down
to take the leash off the dog, catch my breath
after our three mile walk. I glance at a picture
hanging to my right. A young man smiles back
at me, leans jauntily against a small, gray airplane,
right hand resting easily on a pistol at his hip.
The plane is in a revetment built from rusty
fifty-five gallon drums, and in the background
puffy clouds hang in a pale Vietnamese sky.
The picture, taken forty-four years ago—its color
faded from sunlight and age—has hung in that spot
for a dozen years. I walk past it several times a day,
without noticing it. But today, the stark realization
of the passing of all that time catches me up.
What that young man did then, I could no longer do,
or even want to do. His deeds were adventurous
and exciting to him. Today they are the fearsome
and haunting memories of an old warrior.