You’re in a shitty African hospital with wet, moldy walls or is it bombed out Bosnia
No it’s somewhere on a bad road, and you are hurt and have lost track of time
You make it out of bed and throw up on the floor
Lean against the wall
You’re dried up like fish fillet in the sun
You notice somebody in the hall looking at you.

His face is twisted and blank like he’s looking for a mask
He walks away with a sheet covering his body
You think it must be Halloween
Then you leave your room and see a light at the end of the hall
You walk in the dark, a candle or two around, and the place is quiet
The night is hiding from the war
At the end of the hall there’s a room and you look inside and see a new friend
A companion in this fucked up place

He raises his head and his eyes light up
You are hope for him, a way to get better, a conversation about something peaceful
You touch his arm, he’s burning up, and he mutters backward words, echoes swirling away
You see things in his face … his parents, a town, a girl, a different life
They are in the very back of his eyes, living in soft light, like the softness of your heart, and it is all there at the back of his eyes, and you know he is never going to get out of bed

You are hollow, tired, an old man beating his fists against the wall
You walk back to your room, step in your vomit, climb into bed
You dream, as if you were someplace else and things are soft, grey mush, and you attach your hand to the soft beat of your heart and the soft breathing of the guy down the hall, and in its own way, the dream is timeless, formless, and unlike him, you will live another day

A poem by Duke Miller … pictures by Jan

10 thoughts on “Softly

    1. Thanks! This is one of my favorites of Duke’s poems and when I captured the birds flying around manically before a big storm I thought the photos matched the feel of the poem.

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