The bullet knew his middle name.
He awoke, not remembering his first.
She leaned over him, wiping his brow.
The crisp starched nurse’s uniform told him all he needed to know
before the morphine kicked in and he fell back into the pillow
that was so much softer than anything he’d known in more than two years.
Night fell and the nurse continued, constant at his side.
The cool blue light of the moon filtering in through the high transom was incapable of assuaging the stifling stilled heat of the sleeping Moroccan desert.
Through the night they stayed together,
the nurse and the young wounded infantryman;
An unlikely couple, bound by the pains and duties of war.
The war took no pause nor notice of this moonlight blue iteration of the Pieta.
But, for just the smallest collection of moments,
there was actual peace on the earth.
It was in a small room in a bombed out waystation
in the Moroccan desert, but it was peace nonetheless.
When he awoke, the smell of coffee and fresh baked doughnuts
were more than enough incentive to open his eyes.
Even without the box of fresh Holy Joe’s Doughnuts
and the piping hot cup of coffee in her hand,
she qualified as an angel;
with them, she was elevated to sainthood.
He hadn’t seen a “Holey” since before the war began.
He had never breakfasted with an angel, let alone a saint.
“Look,” she said, smiling and holding up a fresh glazed dunker,
“this doughnut is just like you..Its good all around….
with a little hole in the middle !”
“Just like you,”
he replied with a wink.
She blushed and stiffly stood up to leave,
he surged forward through the pain, reaching for her hand.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, “its just that I haven’t seen a woman
in such a long time…….I shouldn’t have said that.”
She stared at him for a few heartbeats.
He held his breath.
She turned her head away and shed a tear before turning her feet in a similar direction and exiting the innuendo filled room.
She closed the door.
He closed his eyes and listened to the walls echoing her steps
as she made her retreat away from him, down a hallway,
down two sets of stairs and down another hall.
He heard a faraway door open and close.
Suddenly, he remembered his first name.
He felt no joy.
He knew he had lost his one chance at paradise.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry ,”
he wept as he shouted into the emptiness of the rest of his life.
The cadence of echoes faded to silence…
” Couldn’t you at least leave the doughnuts?”
Photo by Jean-Fabien (via flickr)