PANEL 29W, LINE 63
For Robert John Regenhardt Jr., PFC.
I see him in the Wall’s black reflection,
see the silver color his hair might have been,
his father’s color,
had his bones grown old, his body
not been carried home, see him crowded
three abreast on the school bus seat,
hair cropped short like all the boys.
His gentle laugh echoes out softly
—for of them all, he was the quiet one,
the one my parents like.
He is now crowded
between Dewey Ray, Tom Robinson,
Joseph C. Thorne, Jr…another Junior.
My thumb traces the bold, wide ‘R’
I scrawled over and over again—
pen clutched tight, as if to squeeze
blood into ink—when his father
told me the news. The granite
does not warm to my touch
rub harder rub harder, erase fragments,
bones parched white against black,
against white-hot blindness,
sound against silence…
Robert John Jr., Panel 29W, Line 63
piled on top, underneath,
bodies lined by line,
I stand at the edge of the grave
looking down, eyes keen,
searching name by name, bone by bone.
There are too many to tell apart, too many
stacked on top, laid beside letters wrapped
around legs, around arms, engraved.
And so I dip my wings, dive down,
down, down for a keener look,
only to rise, climbing fast,
climbing fast to the blue of sky,
fast away from blackness,
from explosions and craters,
fast up to the clouds
where black wings