war on the rocks

A Veteran’s Poem on Memory and PTSD

December 18, 2015

Editor’s note: This is the first time War on the Rocks has published original poetry, and this poem is a perfect fit for our Art of War channel. Written by a veteran of the Gulf War, its lines at once celebrate the power of memory and poignantly testify to the challenges memory can pose for veterans who experience PTSD.


 

Driving

Whenever I see a yard, trim and fresh,
not fenced; the fire-red
hydrant, talons stretched
in every direction – flashing flags;

whenever I hear the stop – start
whir, the bicycling scythes
mowing tall grass, the sprinklers
tick and pulse, that thrum;

I taste lush green shadows the hoses left,
and I breathe newly
sliced grass, filaments rising
with dandelion manes – summer’s flotsam;

and revisit the smells: scalding desert air;
dark tar broiled; metal blades blasting night;
the dunes orange, Bedouin shadows flickering – all mirage.

Whenever I see a yard, not fenced, I keep
driving past the tread and worry clenched;
the sweat of neighbors sipping beer.

— Jenny Linn Loveland

 

 

Jenny Linn Loveland is an Air Force Veteran who served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Jenny is a member of the Hampton Roads Veterans Writing Group, an initiative of the Armed Services Arts Partnership.

 

Photo credit: Maj. Randall Stillinger, U.S. Army