He traces names, maneuvering the chair
against the slope. The panels stretch out black
and still. Each year he vows he’ll not be back,
but every bitter April finds him there.
The first few names of friends are low. But four
are cut up high, and he would need a leg
to stand and trace them. So he has to beg
for help from strangers innocent of war.
Some years ago he pushed his wheels to where
the leader lived. He’d stared across the lawn
beyond the bars—the tourists had all gone—
then cursed and spat upon the ground. A pair
of guards had turned away without a nod.
—You’d think that it would break the heart of God.
—Robert A. Hall
Robert A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam veteran who later served five terms in the Massachusetts State Senate. He and his wife, Bonnie, live in