As a boy I’d fall asleep with my stomach to the bed,
An arm and opposite leg pitched at right angles, my head
Turned to face my hand and hidden underneath a pillow.
A full-time infantryman in those days, I was training—
And didn’t mind the gentle way my weight was dispersed, although
I held that position long after my neck was straining.
I’d hear the whoosh of footsteps in tall grass, a loping stride
Relayed through the mattress, floorboards, and from the other side
Of the earth: I had awakened it again, some dread beast
Who had fixed the place I slept, though it would take years at least …
Older, I understood the sound of steps I used to fear
Was my pulse. And, older still, I know that thud in my ear
Is the enemy, just a boy with a simple order,
And me walking out, unarmed, to accept his surrender.