(Another one in my series. Sense of place, my position in it, is that OK? We were actually on campus together that year when he came back--he told me firsthand, does that come through?)
When my brother came home from Vietnam,
injured but recovered, we hugged and hugged,
cried relief, he was in one piece.
We gathered at home around the table,
it was July, windows open,
a summer breeze brushing over us.
He flew flat on the floor under the table
before I could even blink
when a fire cracker went off outside during supper.
He shouted out during his sleep
in subconscious madness where he
flashed back into some blood-filled horror.
He enrolled in law school; UW Madison, his alma mater.
Moved back into his fraternity of happier undergraduate days
where he received a diploma, and a low draft number.
His brothers now hissed,
“How could you let yourself go to Vietnam?”
As a grad student, he was spat upon
had his watch stolen
his room broken into, belongings trashed.
War Protests continued on campus.
They called him “baby killer, war monger”.
He went to class, tried to study but the flash backs,
violence on campus, the stolen things, the spit,
turned him bitter. There was no parade
no light at the end of the tunnel,
everyone came home alone.