At first I blamed the Army mail, because
I hadn’t heard from you since I left for
Vietnam. I wrote to you every day.
I kept your picture long after I received
your “Dear John” telling me you were
Years later, in my own way, I had to let
Vietnam go. When I finally cried and
agonized over Vietnam, I let you go, too.
It was time to forgive all the way around.
I lost you, and lost the war.
I loved Vietnam and her beautiful people.
I loved speaking the language, the smells
of the busy marketplace, and especially,
the laughter of the children.
And, I loved you.
I loved teaching English in Hue at that stately
old high school by the Song Huong river.
And, yes, I even loved why I was there.
And, I thought I loved you.
But, in a moment of exasperation, I finally
did it. I tore your picture to shreds. And
then I wished I hadn’t.
It hurt when I lost you, but I cried harder
at the loss of Vietnam.
Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”