Stars

You said,

“Life is the greatest gift,

but can also be

the greatest burden.”

I heard the weight of those words,

I could feel the pain behind them.

You see,

I was never there.

I was off and lost,

derelict.

A ghost ship.

 

While you and your friends

fought a war on foreign soil,

I fought my demons,

and lost

again,

and again,

and again;

and then I stopped fighting.

 

You came back,

injuries sustained in combat,

flesh torn,

bones broken,

nerves severed.

The story of your war

stitched in scar tissue

all over your face,

chest and arms.

 

I heard you share your story,

and I fought down

the same feelings of inadequacy

and cowardice

that strike out at me

when I am faced

with those who gave so much;

while all I did was take,

and take,

and take,

until I could take no more.

 

These days,

I think we are both mostly recovered,

though I cannot even imagine

what that took for you.

Life has blessed us

and burdened us.

We are alive,

because we survived,

what tried to kill us.

 

Out here,

on my back deck,

on this clear November night,

I’m having a beer

and cooking steaks

and looking at the stars.

I wonder,

how many stars do you see?

Because, I see all of them.

 

 

HG – 2019

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