With rice scented fingers she handles the skin of him –
whistles an American song beside his hospital bed.
He says he can't remember the dawn or early light.
And he doesn't know his Vietnamese nurse
who with loathing, comes to hold his hand. Pour him water.
He says he is disgusted by the hospital gown
that crumples beneath his chest and deforms his dignity.
He has thoughts of her naked,
like innocent school girls he lied to in parked cars, to send him
off to war.
like nameless gooks he brutally forced into sex.
But remembering turns his stomach.
And, she cares for him with hatred
for what he did to her country, what he did to her people
why he came, hidden amongst the camouflaged faces –
of many others like him, like her father.
She wants to emasculate him
for the way the GI conquered,
humiliated, raped women like her.
Like her mother who claimed it was love;
just before her mother died, and sent her to America.
She hates to touch him, but she sponges
his chest and inner thighs.
Only wishes she could scour abrasively
like her feelings have been scoured by the bitterness of war.
by Yolonda Pawielski
... who is an English professor at Southeastern Louisiana
University, the author of Black Female Authors (2004) and
other writings in her specialty.