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Page 46
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<< 45. I Knew Him Once (poem)47. Dreaming and Waking In A Yokohama Hospital, 1969 >>

The Medevac (poem)

By rg cantalupo

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...and so we rose, finally, nose dipping

into the rotor's whirling current, then rising

a hundred feet or so above the firefight—

the AK's crack-crack-crack and the rocket-

grenades' explosions fading to lesser sounds—

the men in their shallow foxholes below

receding—no longer mine—and my body's

closer perimeter returning, head throbbing,

blood drying on my palms; rose until

the rush of terror died, and I returned, and

with me, the boy lying beside me, his ragged

breath, his eyes glazed over with shock

as the medic worked on his wounds; rose,

slowly, wobbly, an O so burdened bird,

too heavy, too full, our thin underbelly

exposed, and the riffs of bullets sparking

round us; rose, and then, fell, pilot slumped

over, blades swooshing through dead air,

the green rice sprouting up to meet us and

the grey-green faces bursting from the bush

with flames shooting out their mouths; rose,

and then fell, fell as if in a falling dream,

as if that's all there was and all there ever

could be; and so I got ready, I searched

the medevac's belly for a weapon—an M-16,

a machinegun, a bayonet, anything to kill with

if I survived—no time now for prayers,

no time for the still eyes beside me—falling,

falling—until, suddenly, thirty feet or so

above the ground, a hand caught and hurled us

skyward again, the co-pilot hard at the controls

and we ascending, the hospital twenty clicks

through stars and home somewhere beyond...

—rg cantalupo

<< 45. I Knew Him Once (poem)47. Dreaming and Waking In A Yokohama Hospital, 1969 >>

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