The Forgotten: A Soldier’s Lament
Long did I walk in the land of my youth
amidst the fields of timothy and pine.
The winding streets with canopies of oak,
the wooded creeks, and I so young,
would walk their banks, my head in dreams.
A prince was I; My fortune lay
in wealth of friends and patrons dear.
Wanting not for time or place of which
to call my own, I danced in May,
played free in June, and knew where was my home.
Alone was not a word I knew,
for never was I thus. Trees bore me
in their limbs; The wind caressed my face
and whispered, “Be at peace, sweet prince.
Our love for you is great.”
And ever did I feel at peace amidst
such tender care. The land was home;
Its heart my own, for I was welcome there.
For many years it bore me thus, and I, its prince,
wished not to leave or bear my soul away.
Yet was I torn from this my home
to walk a soldier’s path and leave this land
which called me son…a native born…its prince.
With sorrow was my leaving met with throngs of loved ones dear.
“Farewell sweet prince, and hurry home.” Well wished was my return.
And time was lost upon my way;
A soldier’s life is thus. A hundred years
And yet a day, and both are met with pain.
With aching did I long for home…to walk amongst the trees…
To feel the wind caress my face and whisper, “Welcome home.”
Your labor’s done, and served you well;
You’ve earned your passage thus.” “Come sweet prince,”
I’d hear them say, my friends and fellows true.
“Come dance with us; We’ve missed you long
And joy in your return.”
And then upon that blessed day that time released its bond,
I hurried back to find my home in the place I’d left it thus.
But whereupon I found the place, I knew it not for home.
I knew it not, nor it knew me;
A ghost, I walked its streets.
“Your prince is here,” I spoke in vain;
It echoed in the void. For, home had journeyed with me
And had lost its place in time. A memory…a thought…
A shadow of what was…
A child’s voice that calls and fades and never can be reached.
“I am here!” I call and shake the arms of hell.
“Can’t you hear me? Can’t you see? Or have you all forgotten?
I called you friend. I called you brother.
And, was I not your prince?”
Familiar faces know me not, or no longer care to see.
“Ah,” they say. “Acquaintances perhaps,
Or neighbors once…I think. Well met…farewell…
And are you back to stay?” The trees refuse
to pay me notice; The wind abruptly brushes past.
A prince no more, I wander thus. My boyhood lost in dreams…
– Health, wellness, and balance are not just achieved through exercise and healthy diet. Sometimes, we have to face our darkest places and bring them to light…even if they’ve already become deeply rooted within. The poem above tells a bit of my story that could be echoed by many others who you encounter every day. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was read this poem aloud to a writing group shortly after it was written, but doing so helped me work through and release some very unhealthy emotions that were threatening to drag me down too far below the surface.
To my fellow veterans: Darkness is sure to invade, especially after returning home, but it doesn’t have to win. We were there for each other then, we are there for each other now. You are never alone. Don’t wait to reach out: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ –