War Tale

As he sits fingering his bottle of beer,
wiping the sweat down in trickles,
turning it slowly in tight circles on the table top,
he pauses the story, his eyes growing distant.

He’s one who made it, who came home.
He wasn’t sure he’d heard correctly the war was over,
had to pinch himself to make sure
this wasn’t a dream, that he’d actually survived,
despite being told day in and day out
he should expect to die each time he went into combat,
so his mind became dull and hard as the thunder claps
of shells bursting all around him eternally.

Now here he sits hunched, back in the world,
eyes focusing again, picks up his bottle,
drains it, places it back on the table carefully,
then continues telling it, my father’s funny war story.

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