The last time I saw him was on CNN.
He was standing next to his aircraft,
wearing a khaki green flight suit,
trying to seem modest as the reporter
discussed his recent mission.
As if his record wasn’t impressive.
As if he could handle anything less
than perfection.

He looked invincible.
As if the scar on his cheek
wasn’t from a bullet
that barely missed his brain.
As if his Kiowa hadn’t been shot down.
As if he hadn’t skirted classified intel
when he sat in a café and recounted the story
between bites of crème brûlée.

His voice was confident.
He spoke as if he didn’t love war —
as if he hadn’t requested another tour.
As if he remembered how to be a civilian,
and still capable of vulnerability.
As if he knew how to be there for me
the one time I asked for a favor.
An important favor.
Something he did for a goddamn living.

“I’m not going to sit in two hours of traffic
to drive down from base on a Sunday,”
he told me, oblivious to my distress.
He sounded as if traffic was as stressful as flying.
As if he thought I wasn’t capable of walking away.
As if I needed him as much as he needed me
to be his beacon.

The desert terrain looked as barren as his heart.
But he was handsome, and the reporter was charmed.
When he took off his helmet and smiled,
I almost missed him.
As if I had forgotten everything I just told you.
As if he cared at all about my well-being.
As if there was anything left to miss.



©Elle Wonders 2017