He cannot remember the day
he got here or how he got here.
At the edge of the yard
in the compound he stands
facing the southwest prairie.
Temple, Texas shimmers in the hot air
near the V.A. Hospital.
The ground from just outside the fence
all the way to the horizon
has always seemed planed
and slightly tilted upward
underneath this mostly cloudless sky.
Where is France from here and reconnaissance
strike so softly against the light of memory
that it is not sound nor image nor idea
as we ordinarily know them
that bring him to them or them to him.
His sheets this evening
would smell of grass and earth;
in the morning the Provence sun
would leaf them in thinnest gold
and he would wash again,
the little stream’s forty year old waters
still cold, still clean.
Burnt Water Suite
San Antonio, TX: Wings Press, 1999
Used by permission of the poet.