Old Soldier

He walks between his metal shop and his greenhouse
fingernails broken at the edges
wrists coloring rust into the dirt
feet spread apart the old grunt way
‒ a habit not broken off from
mortars dropping

In the metal shop sparks fly off the wheel
sharpening a blade he may need
to carve away trouble ‒ you never know
In the greenhouse cherry tomatoes nestle
in his palm and into his mouth
‒ tiny sweet explosions

At night his wife keeps stitching stars
into a sky drawn dark of hope
Tracers spark out and chase him down

Old soldier ‒
could your wife stitch that quilt close enough
from screamers screaming you back to when
you were just a man with a gun?

These hands of mine fumble and break their nails
in the quaking dirt and singing metal of hell
to climb back for that smell and sweet savor
waiting out there on the vine

     ‒ Eugene Marckx

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