Linda Golden has been listening to other people's stories most of her life.
As a Psychoanalyst, she listens with intensity as others tell their tales. In later years
she has explored painting with watercolor and creative writing. Now that she is retired,
she devotes herself to those endeavors with the same intensity.
In the casket, I can look at his face
Unafraid, uninterrupted view
Breathing fire no more
Never noticed one eyebrow
Arched in surprise
Even now in repose
His eyes closed to this world
Seem to follow me
He always watching,
Deep canyons run horizontal, vertical
Forming spiderwebs in suntanned skin
That stops collar high
Cheeks hollowed by disease
Contrast with slight smile
Plastered on his ungenerous lips
Silvery full head of hair
Parted on the wrong side
How he would have hated that
His hands drew me, I cover them with mine
Refrigerator cold, wide blunt instruments always
Manicured, I bless them for their industry
Forgive them their cruelty
Days are punctuated by the ritual of six o' clock news
We sit in the livingroom, I on the floor with my year old
Son, my parents on the couch, sometimes my brother is here.
We wait to see the map come on the screen, first televised
War, wait to see if the Tet Offensive carries the name of
His base, Ahn Khe, cute little icon flame marking configuration.
There are always tears, if it's there the tears are for terror of waiting
For the knock on the door, military death squad three days later,
If not, then saline is for raw ache of missing him, him missing us.
Months roll by, 1968, son David learns so many words every day, I write
Them down in my daily letter to him, send as many pictures as I can so
He can see his child grow from baby to toddler.
Rock myself to sleep as I did as a child, hugging the extra pillow to my
Chest while I listen to the even breathing of this child who now says
'Night dada' to a picture of his father who is holding his baby son.
Letters come back, full of love, loneliness, longing logging long hours of
Shellings, patrols, silly Sunday shenanigans, few pictures of his growing
Gaunt, grainy black and white ghost-like in a wasteland of military armory
He's coming home a month early, compassionate leave,
His mother is dying of cancer, his parents give me grief for
Using her illness to "get him home."
Don't know when he will arrive, try to prepare our twenty-two month
Old for the stranger who will come through the door in battle fatigues
Rushing to hold him. I wonder who I will find coming through that door.