Nicolas Henderson CC
At the hometown bar of good ol' boy locals
your name reversed on the Lowe's tag you
forgot to take off in the bar mirror lined
with pour-spouted bottles, bookended
by whitetail buck's head and largemouth
bass, a female classmate with rings climbing
the helix of one ear sits down, looks at you.
You remember her as quiet with a shy smile.
You're surprised to see her here where
you've started coming after work, soothed
by the muted talk and soft clinks of glass,
low lights and neon, two months home
from the Army. Her white hand in the mirror
moves to your forearm and you turn to see
the same shy smile, and she says she has
been looking for you and blushes. You don't
remember her friends really so conversation
is awkward, slows quickly.
After awhile she quietly asks what the war
was like, and you stare through the mirror
into the coughs and yells of your team,
slowly beehiving through mud-brick interiors
of Fallujah, finding hidden turbaned assassins,
trading shots in dark rooms, coming back out
into a street's shake 'n bake white smoke
of battlefield phosphorus where some angry
local scratched your name on a bullet:
American, that sears through your bicep
like a circular saw and drops your rifle
in the sand.
And you do something unexpected, by her,
by you, you roll your sleeve to show an ugly
memento from a world ablaze -- easier, better
than words. She rests her head of dark hair
on your shoulder.
Steven Croft lives on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia. An Army veteran, he left Iraq and the Army
to find a job in a public library where he has worked for the last thirteen years. His work has appeared
in Sky Island Journal, Poets Reading the News, San Pedro River Review, Mobius: The Journal of Social
Change, Willawaw Journal, Gyroscope Review, and many other places.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.