Circumstance

Suppose I’ve been in the Army
all my life and suppose
I’ve just gotten orders for Vietnam,
the place that no one’s talking about
just yet, the place officers go to train
the side we’re on, and I’m afraid
of what I’ll be asked to say and do, though
I’ve been training all my life to do this,
even though they think I am the man they want.
Say all this is what I’m thinking
when I’m in a helicopter, ammo strapped
to my chest, rifle in my hands, sweat trickling down
the small of my back, and suppose
later that month my troop
is ambushed, all of us go down
in the middle of the jungle, and I am 26
and never meet my wife and never see
Chicago and never have a daughter, here in this room
imagining that she is her father
as he went off to war for the first time
the age that she is now.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Rohingya refugees wait to receive aid Sept. 21 at a camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. (CNS photo/Cathal McNaughton, Reuters)
This year the Grand Bargain on refugees seems increasingly fragile.
Kevin ClarkeSeptember 22, 2017
Residents mourn on Sept. 20 for the 11 victims killed in a church in Atzala, Mexico, during the Sept. 19 earthquake. A Catholic bishop in Mexico said the situation was extremely serious, and much aid would be needed. (CNS photo/Imelda Medina, Reuters)
The earthquake feels like yet another crisis tearing at our transnational families. The earthquake was a natural disaster, but the many ways American society fails to value the lives of foreigners, of immigrants, of its own citizens, because of their skin color or their Latino heritage is a
Antonio De Loera-BrustSeptember 22, 2017
“It is good to rediscover our history and welcome the diversity of the people in the United States.”
J.D. Long-GarcíaSeptember 22, 2017
These photos were taken August 16, 1920, at St. Elizabeth's Hospital for the Insane. Salmon had been on a hunger strike for 34 days. (National Archives and Records Administration via the website BenSalmon.org)
The courageous witness of 'unarmed prophet' Ben Salmon—precisely one century ago—anticipated a major development in Catholic doctrine on war and peace,.
Barry HudockSeptember 22, 2017