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Page 45
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<< 44. Monday, 0300, Da Nang, Republic South Vietnam46. The Medevac (poem) >>

I Knew Him Once (poem)

By David Sandgrund

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I knew him in a past long ago,

When I knew him first, he was just returned

From war, thin, gaunt maybe, clean shaven

Recently married, he was in my anthropology class.

I liked him and we often dined together

Between classes. Great smile but a shadow

Behind his eyes...

When next I saw him, thirty years later

he was bearded with long curly salt and pepper hair

Just as tall but heavier,

We met at an art exhibit, he was showing

Photos of life in Vietnam 1967, we chatted

But I never mentioned our past together

Still a nice smile and now no shadow

In January, this year, I saw him

He didn't recognize me

I barely recognized him.

He's a regular in the local coffee shop,

still bearded, but now bald,

Still tall but very thin,

Like he's been ravaged by illness

Walks with a cane assisted by

Two boys, grandkids?

Still smiling but the shadow is back

There he is now in the distance

turning when he hears the car.

It's a cool spring day

Frost crusts the scrub at his feet

he is bundled up like winter

wearing a hat, wool sweater and jeans,

He looks in a hurry for warmer days

I want to stop, I really do,

but the driver, owner of car

is nervous. "Not sure I want to meet

an old boyfriend of yours."

So we sweep on by, I catch

his eye and he nods, smiling

as if in sudden recognition

Unexpected tears prick my eyes.

One day I'll stop

and we'll have coffee together,

he has stories to tell, I know.

—David Sandgrund

<< 44. Monday, 0300, Da Nang, Republic South Vietnam46. The Medevac (poem) >>