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When They don't

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This picture I take with trembling hands,
will show them I am okay.
I’ll wipe the sweat and mud from my tired face,
to make my mother happy.
I’ll smooth my hard face, look proud are true.
This mask I wear for all of them is just one of the things
I carry everyday.
I am lieutenant Jimmy Cross, lost in the pages of Tim O’Brien’s books.
My sun glasses will hide my eyes.
Eyes that have become cold.
My face in this picture I take,
so different from the face they know and love.
They’ll pass my image around at church, over cookies and lemonade.
And I don’t mind.
They’ll say how handsome I am, just like my father.
They’ll say how brave I am, how good I am.
But I’ll still be here, away from all of them.
I’ll still be here when they think of me,
and when they don’t.





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