For Christmas 2005, my wife gave me a picture painted by Lee Teter, titled,” Reflections“.
I’d wanted the picture for years and had seen several poems framed with this picture in
the past but none of them seemed to do justice to my own memory and what I felt that
the artist attempted to portray. So I wrote my own. This is my attempt. Hope you enjoy.


P. McCormack, SGT. USMC, 1968-1972, Da Nang 1970

 

Touching Their Names, On the Wall

My walk is long and thoughtful,…delayed for thirty some years.

But still the dread, within my head, push forth those salty tears.

Why do I feel so guilty, about those names that beckon and call?

I only knew a few of them, and yet, I know them all.

Names like Duffy and Taco, and Smitty, and Mack and Big Al

And Mooch, he borrowed everything, he’s still got my old sweat towel.

There are others that I should remember, and it certainly is a shame.

But they were young, and so many, I see a face but the Wall has their name.

I stop at the Wall for a moment, thinking maybe that I can recall.

Set my brief case and jacket beside me and place my hand up on the wall.

I move my hand across the black granite and press the etchings with my palm.

The memories start landing like mortars, but then,.. I begin to feel calm.

The granite’s not the cold, hard rock, that I expected to chill me so much.

Instead it is more like the warmth of a friend, when you greet and finally touch.

I hang my head to remember my buddies, close my eyes and clinch back the tears.

But the Wall disrespects my old memories and drags me back through the years.

I raise my head to clear my blurred vision, and look through the glare in the Wall,

And there in the mist of a jungle, they are gathered, one and all.

“Don’t feel guilty that you’re standing there, and have to visit us this way.

We served with pride and gave our all.“ I heard one soldier say.

“Semper fi“, I heard one cry, as a Marine stepped through the mist.

“Remember all, who answer the call!“, and he raised our flag in his muddied fist.

I feel strength of a sacred Brotherhood, through the etchings under my hand.

And like daylight through the fog of time, I begin to understand.

I slowly take my hand down and wipe the palm across my face,

And when I look back at the Wall, my own reflection has taken their place.

The walk is still long and still thoughtful. I make the journey to answer their call.

And each time I arrive, I bring them alive, by touching their names on the Wall.

McCormack***2006