Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Our Saigon Memento

Robert Morris Kennedy


David’s memories came home
without the same military efficiency
that delivered his corpse.
A dead man’s memories won’t fit
inside a body bag. A dying man’s memories
pour away from him like amniotic fluid
spilling onto slick clay, the least
among insignificant things
on a battlefield.
With folded flag,
purple heart, orange blossoms
and black armbands,
we buried David.
And the living went on,
and the war went on, until the last
flailing helicopter rose from the roof
like a flickering quail
flushed by bird dogs.
That night, the way bloody water
from some distant stillbirth
is lifted by the sun,
clarified,
and transformed
into dew upon our lawn,
David’s memories came home --
invisible scars
from a deep, genetic wound
that will remain with us
long after our recollections of Saigon
are as dry as our reflections
on the siege of Vicksburg
as we pass its memorial
on our way to Mardi Gras.

***

Robert Morris Kennedy is a Florida native, and night city editor in Tampa for the St. Petersburg Times. His poetry and fiction have appeared in The Berkeley Monthly, The Tampa Review, Willow Review, Freefall, Samisdat, City Miner, Avatar Review, Blue Collar Review, Penwood Review, and Hidden Oak. "Our Saigon Memento" was originally published in 1981 in Samisdat.

© Robert M. Kennedy

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012