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Purple Heart

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A plane explodes overhead.
Shrapnel tears into my leg.
I take a deep breath as pain pulses
with each slow beat of my heart.
Each. Slow. Beat.

I pull my arm to my eyes.
Can’t let felled men see me cry.
Sweat and tears douse my mud-caked hand
and I begin to question
why I am here.

The TV commercials with husky men
showed climbing mountains and getting women.
They never mentioned this stuff.
“An army of one.”
That’s all they ever said.

Where was that American unity
when they shipped me to this Hell?
My mother. My friends. My girl.
Nothing to them.
Their only concern: our progress.

I close my eyes and open them again,
and I wake in a hospital bed.
Pinned to my chest is a petite, purple heart—
steel, inhuman, and cold—
as if my leg is forever healed.




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