At the home for disabled veterans, two blind soldiers
stand hand in hand at the clinic door.
They hover anxiously at the entrance,
waiting to greet us.
They wear brown tunics, wool caps,
Ray Charles shades.
Beneath them a legless man in a blue beret
wheels himself forward on a wooden transom.
He scoots aside the chickens.
The three lean forward to smile into the lens
of the camera. They flinch only slightly
at the sound of the shutter closing,
the shudder of the flash going off silently
in the photographer’s hand.
Kevin Bowen is director of the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and its Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His most recent collections are Eight True Maps of the West (Dedalus Press, Dublin), Six Vietnamese Poets (Curbstone Press), and Early Zen Poems from Vietnam, with Nguyen Duy and Nguyen Ba Chung (Saigon Cultural Publishing House). (updated 10/2006)