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Better Maimed Than Marxist

by Michael Murry

At our U.S. Navy advanced tactical support base
on the banks of a muddy brown river
not far from the southernmost tip of South Vietnam,
I injured my right middle finger
in a pickup volleyball game one Sunday afternoon.

Our little base infirmary had no X-ray equipment;
I had to take a helicopter ride north,
to a larger, Army base possessing
better medical equipment and facilities
to see if I had broken any bones in my hand.

Walking down a hospital corridor,
I passed a room full of Vietnamese patients
who had no arms or legs.
I experienced a disorienting sense of scale compression,
unexpectedly witness to already small lives made minuscule in a moment,

like seeing living dollar bills cut down to the size of postage stamps,
or sentient silver quarters suddenly shrunk to copper pennies.

Copyright © 2012 by Michael Murry

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