The Soldier

He sits on a plane, tapping his calloused fingers against the camouflage.
Each second that passes he is farther away from the woman he loves,
and closer to destruction and suffering.
There is fear in his eyes, beyond the blazing freedom he envisions,
but he knows he must go.
Tomorrow will bring tanks, grenades, bullets whizzing by his face, and
fireworks of bloody red staining the world around him.
Tomorrow there will be hopes to make it home alive;
there will be questions of what they are fighting for.
He goes to sleep, and another day is over.
He closes his eyes.
He is safe,
for now.
Thick black smoke fills the air, fills the lungs of the people.
His helmet is strapped to his head so tightly it is nearly choking him.
He sweats; he is caught in the heat of the fight but needs to look away.
Stepping over a mound of ash and decay, he pauses.
A woman lies frozen on the ground, bleeding, her flesh burnt and peeling
as simply as the skin from a vegetable.
The skin underneath is pink and raw; her eyes are blank.
The soldier must avert his eyes;
he cannot look, for his mind plays games with him.
It shows him his teary eyed wife
It shows him "I have to go."
It shows him "I didn't even get to kiss you yet!"
A cloud of smoke engulfs him as it streams by and
There is a little girl, idle in the road, dragging a teddy bear behind her in the dirt.
The skin on her body is torn, bruised, broken;
her scalp is burned, hair missing in patches.
Several teeth are missing.
She does not cry, though her mother writhes on the dirt beneath them,
coughing her last breath.
"tôi ph?i m?nh m?," she says.
I must be strong.
The soldier lets his guard down and a tear falls
as he falls to his knees.
He sees himself engulfed in flames, forgiven. and BANG.
He opens his eyes, a searing pain in his shoulder.
He looks down at the ground and sees a dirty, worn teddy bear.
He closes his eyes and he sees the young girl smile.
"v? nhà. h?nh phúc. nó ???c làm," she whispers, her words floating on air.
Go home.
Be happy.
It is done.