Drafted and sent to Vietnam,
my cousin missed our wedding.
But his wife made the rounds,
her cassette recorder extended—
a black box of greetings she said
she’d mail to Mike in the jungle.
I imagined mosquito-infested delta
and Mike smoking inside his tent,
ear cocked to our wistful voices—
Hi there, take care of yourself—
heard above clinking glasses,
band bellowing Joy to the world/
all the boys and girls now.
We learned later that a bullet
brushed Mike’s heart but moved on,
the engraved silver lighter
in his pocket just slightly dented.
When I saw Mike decades later
at a relative’s wake, he was gray but fit,
having long given up tobacco—
although he knew he owed
that killer habit big time.
Maria Terrone’s full-length collections are Eye to Eye; A Secret Room in Fall (McGovern Prize, Ashland Poetry Press), and The Bodies We Were Loaned, with work published in such media as Poetry, Ploughshares, Poetry Daily. and in many notable anthologies. At Home in the New World was her creative nonfiction debut. More at www.mariaterrone.com