“S. Sgt. Metz” by Dorianne Laux

Issue 63

Found in Willow Springs 63

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Metz is alive for now, standing in line

at the airport Starbucks in his camo gear

and buzz cut, his beautiful new

camel-colored suede boots. His hands

are thick-veined. The good blood

still flows through, given an extra surge

when he slurps his latte, a fleck of foam

caught on his bottom lip.


I can see into the channel of his right ear,

a narrow darkness spiraling deep inside his head

toward the place of dreaming and fractions,

ponds of quiet thought.


In the sixties my brother left for Vietnam,

a war no one understood, and I hated him for it.

When my boyfriend was drafted I made a vow

to write him a letter every day, and then broke it.

I was a girl torn between love and the idea of love.

I burned the letters in a metal trash bin

behind the broken fence. It was the summer of love

and I wore nothing under my cotton vest,

my Mexican skirt.


I see Metz later, outside baggage claim,

hunched over a cigarette, mumbling

into his cell phone. He's more real to me now

than my brother was to me then, his big eyes

darting from car to car as they pass.

I watch him whisper into his hands.


I don't believe in anything anymore:

god, country, money, or love.

All that matters to me now

is his life, the body so perfectly made,

mysterious in its workings, its oiled

and moving parts, the whole of him

standing up and raising one arm

to hail a bus, his legs pulling him forward,

all muscle and sinew and living gristle,

the countless bones in his foot tapped in his boot,,

stepping off the red curb.

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