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   April 24, 2008 Issue                                       

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From our readers

Missing in Action
by SUSAN PIZZANO
from her collection “Boomerang”

My brother thought that he had found a solution

            to the problem of me missing my senior prom

            because you were in Vietnam.

He called up someone I hadn’t seen

            since I had saved him from drowning

            years before.

My last image of him

            was that of a bone thin body

            shaking with sobs, the sobs of a killer

            which he almost was, of me.

It seems he had imagined

            when I jumped in to help him

            that I was a life raft;

We both looked better prom night.

He had stopped sobbing

            and was a little less skinny.

I was not blue nor gasping for air.

It was his turn to save me from drowning

I was drowning too

            in thoughts of you.

The orchid pinned to my dress

            became your jungle.

The music became our song;

                        “Shots Firing in the Distance.”

Instead of dancing, I was crawling.

            crawling through the jungle to you

            so, together, we would listen to;

                        “Shots Firing in the Distance.”

They sent you home from the jungle early.

They called me from the hospital

            thinking I could help you

            that I could break through

            your day-by-day staring at the wall

            continuously chanting my name.

When I went there you looked at me

            didn’t see me: just kept repeating my name

            over and over again in a whisper.

I said doctor, please, turn that record

            off in his head, the one called

                        “Shots Firing in the Distance.”