U.S. Soldiers in an Iraq Firefight, 2007, Wikipedia photo.
U.S. Soldiers in an Iraq Firefight, 2007, Wikipedia photo.

I remember your last breath, your head heavy
In my arms, coughing blood, eyes darting for
Life, dirt-blasted face and chest, trembling,
My bare hand pressed on pulsing blood. How
Pale you turned, incoming rounds, I pulled
Your warm head to my vested chest. We both
Knew it was the end as you slipped into silence,
No good-byes.

It’s been eight years now, wondering if I could
Do more to protect your position. When you
Died, I pushed you aside, another bleeding just
Beyond my reach, smoke and debris, pooling
Blood expanding, warm and sticky, as I pulled
Him to me, another life lost, I forced myself to
Move, to take cover, reload, and return fire,
No good-byes.

Too young to understand why we were fighting
Someone else’s war, I took your water, wiped
Your blood from my face and hands, it was our
Blood now, a sacrifice to protect me when I could
Not do the same for you, regrets that haunt my
Nights, dizzying time-frozen moments in my
Heart and mind, when will I let go, for we had
No good-byes.

Written after listening to “Goodbye” by The Pretenders,
Christine Ellen “Chrissie” Hynde,
“But I can’t remember if we said good-bye…”

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