Thursday, April 22, 2010

And The Way The Sun Was Positioned

by S. Brady Tucker

I thought you were smoking a cigarette—
just kicking back for the moment, against
the warm metal of a deuce and a half
truck, in the shade. There were puddles
of oil running from underneath the truck,
leaking from bullet holes where rounds
had pierced the engine block. Your leg
was wet from one large ebony puddle, but
we were all dirty then, so it didn’t seem to

Your M-16 was across your chest, and your
forearm was draped over the handgrip
in such a comfortable manner, I thought
for a moment you were asleep. So I just sat
down by your side. I hadn’t eaten yet, so
I tore open an MRE, threw the sealed package
of beef, dehydrated away and began to
eat the peanut butter on the dry crackers.
You were looking back over the low ridge,
where smoke seemed to be oozing from the
pores of the earth in spurts. And I thought
that dying would be easy now, like sunshine
is easy, or hammocks. I thought that
after what we had seen and done that day
that everything after would be a piece of cake.

But I wasn’t ready to go back, over that ridge
you were looking at, over to where bodies
held on to metal like scorpions hold onto
flying beetles. Back there, I wasn’t ready
to go, and I was glad for you being there, and
I wanted to tell you so. I said, “Danny.”
and you hitched like you were about to
vomit. And you turned and looked at me,
and I could see the cigarette in your hand,
how it was ashes down to the filter,
and how the oil (you said it, ‘ole’)
didn’t look so much like oil anymore,
and how your eyes seemed gray with your
skin, and all I wanted right then
was a burning cigarette so bad.

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