We found a box high in the closet - Weebly.com
Army Green was a trigger.
My father was colorblind
but he could recognize that color--
Never, ever would we buy clothes
or blankets or towels or upholstery
in that color that he never wanted to see again.
He had chosen to be a WWII medic
so he didn’t have to carry a weapon.
But what he carried instead
were horrid visions of fallen soldiers,
soldiers he reached too late,
and soldiers who died in his arms.
Army Green uniforms soaked in fresh red blood.
Red and green not like a winter holiday
but wrapped around raw death.
When we were growing up
he proudly showed my brother and me
the medals he won at summer camp
for archery and swimming
when he was nine.
But it wasn’t until after he died
that we found a box high in the closet
containing Army Medals for Bravery
for running out unarmed
in the line of fire to save lives.
He hid these medals because
every death was traumatic
and the only prize he wanted
was coming home to my mother.
The soldiers returned and re-joined society
but ever so often we saw a change in their faces
when a war memory was triggered
by the backfire of a car,
a news article about a war,
their child’s injured finger spouting blood or
the wide-eyed terror of seeing Army Green.
Since age six, Vivian Imperiale has been writing poetry to identify and process her emotions about the world around her. She soon learned that her poems could be meaningful to others. A friend touched her with these words, "You gave me words for an emotion I didn't even know I needed to express."
Vistas & Byways Review is the semiannual journal of fiction, nonfiction and poetry by members of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at San Francisco State University.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at San Francisco State University (OLLI at SF State) provides communal and material support to theVistas & Byways volunteer staff.