Individual Voices / Natural Forms

Winter, 2006

Louise Nayer

Lover's Reunion After Vietnam

He said he killed a man.
“How hard it must be,” I said.
It was August. 

His hands were peeling,
dead skins
falling on linoleum,
and I searched through my body
looking for a life. 

An emptiness:
the sky over a jungle,
sun above a war,
death by snakebites
and heat
in the underground green. 

When he opened his palms,
a million stars
exploded like bullets
off each line. 

“I killed a man,” he said,
squeezing his coffee mug,
and I wished we were trees,
unable to act. 

I met you before the war, he said.
“How hard it must be to kill,”
I said again,
my arms bare branches,
my sex violated,
my insides winter
and his body a jungle. 

Let’s dance, I said,
suddenly cold,
Let’s dance.