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By Sherwood Ross
I hear the lost children of Viet Nam singing
Here comes the endless stream of girl and boy singers
Dressed alike in white blouses with red neckerchiefs
Coming out of the mists, coming toward us,
Joyful and jubilant as if on parade,
Marching gaily into the tropical sunlight
Onto the imaginary strand of the Mekong Delta
Where the rivers of Fire and Memory converge,
In the place where echoes of a bygone century
Are transmuted into epiphany and Time has no dominion.
They sing children's songs in their angelic voices,
Their once terrified, innocent faces marked for death
Now filled with pulsing, sanctified breath,
Transformed by the charity of a loving afterlife.
Here, the half million babies born dead and disfigured,
Poisoned by Agent Orange and blown to bits by bombs
And burned alive by napalm
Are restored to life. Here they are greeted by
The last two American men of conscience,
Senators Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening
Who voted against the maddened mob of their colleagues
Clamoring for war, only to lose by a count of 98 to two.
Here, Gruening told me, "Sherwood, we will never live this war down,
Not in a hundred years, not in two hundred years."
The two American senators look uncomfortable in their pinstripe suits
In the sweltering, tropical sunlight of the reedy river
As the children crowd around them, having no fears,
Singing of forgiveness, singing "God Bless America,"
They reach out, hoping to touch the two forgotten men
Of peace and conscience, tugging at the senators' suit coats, praising them.
Begging for candies, the children are rewarded with chocolates,
In an endless supply, more numerous than all the bombs.