Growing up on farms split by the road
Sons of sisters
We might as well have been brothers
For all the time we spent together.
From early on
I knew my life would differ from yours
You with the desire to see the world
And mine to work the farms at home.
It was always a part of who you were
Serving three long years overseas
Spoken of obliquely
If asked about, never really answered.
I knew you were battalion leader
Knew you spent many nights awake
Unsure if you'd see the dawn
Only to dread what the next day would bring.
I knew you lost friends
And your innocence;
Found an unfamiliar strength
In the mama's boy who cried too easily.
Somehow life prepared you for this:
Pulling your daddy out of bars when you were ten
Watching him beat your mama
And finally getting big enough to stand in the way.
Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian
Blood soaked beaches
Now restored and recreated
As vacation resorts
I let you go without knowing
Your full story
You could not share the depth
Of horror and the fear.
It was not shame that kept you silent
Simply no need to revisit the pain
It was done; it was finished.
As I set flowers and flag on your grave
I bring regret
Questions unasked and unanswered
Of a sacrifice beyond imagining.
Sleep well, my cousin brother,
I rejoice you wake to a new dawn.
I will be walking across that road
To join you all too soon.
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