The sheets of water soaked our hollow bodies.

Cleansed the red mud from our shoes.

We looked at the sky and drank what washed us.

To our front a gleaming bird nested.

Resting for the long flight home.

The water poured down its sides.

And made puddles around the staircase that led from its belly.

Which the men getting off hopped over.

The men, the darkest of them still pale to the sun,

walked at attention.

The two columns approached.

The pale were alert and looked ahead.

We neither looked ahead or back.

They saw the trail of red mud behind us

and tried not to make eye contact.

We passed each other like different species on a plain.

They wondered what we were laughing about

as the last of the red mud

mixed with the gleaming bird’s spreading puddles.

In time they would know.

HOBO Woods, RVN, 1967.

HOBO Woods, RVN, 1967.