Poem: Therapy at the DVA
By: Richard D. Hartwell
Sitting here at the VA listening,
more than ten wars’ worth of
lives and lies told by veterans,
wondering sometimes how much of
what I hear is really the composing by
memory-makers from years ago, or
how much is merely ego-composting,
oft-told tales in hopes of remembrance.
Crawling back to group therapy,
creatures of habit in the same seats,
same postures, same problems
unchanged by weekly expectation of
different outcomes from repetition;
waves of emotion, nausea breaking
on shoals of shared self-centeredness.
For so many of them, their service,
whether combat or not, forms the
Continental Divide of existence.
What is the highpoint of life,
a watershed peak, one side to
your back where you came from,
another facing forward hoping for
a long, soft ride to the distant sea?
How many various shades of green
can I recall limited by fading memory?
Waves of jungled mountains,
undulating hills of concealment,
lush foliage offering no cover,
smooth eddies of tilled fields,
thatched huts, concrete bunkers,
lapping sands with family graves,
bordering the South China Sea.
Losing count, I’m stuck
just short of infinity,
hoping that therapy
won’t let me down.