I Can See

Under a great tree of oak,

Relishing the umbrella of leaves overhead,

I sit and stare out at the world.

Watching its splendor and beauty unfold,

The sky dyed cerulean and sponged with white,

The sun a grand disc of saffron.

But the thing that draws the attention most,

Is not the sun or the sky,

Not the flowers of crimson, mauve, or coral,

But the people.


They line the sidewalks,

Sit at benches.

Some play chess,

Others stroll arm and arm around the park.

Out of all these people,

One stands out.


An old decrepit man,

Sitting on a bench,

Waving in the air,

A freshly polished cane of cedar.

Words of lament and complaint

Fly forth from his mouth.

His words search for any tiny crevice in the soul,

Ransack the mind for a problem,

And then pull at its seam

Until at last he yanks the thread

And unravels the being.


But in my mind

I do not see this man,

But a strong pilot,

Cutting through the air,

Bombs dropping from the machine.


I can see him

Crawling along the ground,

Playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse,

With the enemy close behind.


I can see his valiant return,

Face streaked with dirt and blood,

Arm bandaged and held in place by a sling.

He waves his khaki colored hat in the air,

A smile of joy and relief dancing upon his lips.


I can see the brave soldier

He once was,

The hero of his comrades.


And I can see the love in his eyes,

As his bonnie lass welcomes him home,

Her face radiant and beautiful.


I can see his life,

As it must have once been,

Filled with jovial conversations in the park,

Exuberant excursions through the town,

Tears as hardships refuse to fall,

And the determination to win over all.


I shake the thoughts from my head,

And study the old man on the bench,

Finally seeing the abyss of his sorrow,

The reason for his cynical remarks,

I can see the flowers by his side,

His eyes averted to his bonnie lass's grave,

And I can his past.

I understand this man.