“Suffering is not increased by numbers: one body can contain all the suffering the world can feel.” —Graham Greene
he goes down into the tunnels
as a multi-level parking station
recalling scenes only ever imagined
careful not to scrape head or limbs
on the red dirt walls
lower back straining, hunkered down to fit.
They’re still crouched by the slit-windows
bayonets at the ready
no cigarette smoke to give it all away.
like a kind of insanity
that doesn’t discriminate
welds into skin.
Changing film, he misses it
and someone else grabs the shot
burned into memory
in grainy black and white.
Grass flourishes on Nui Dat Hill
former task-force base
—indistinguishable in recent photographs
from any bit of landscape—
silently cropped by water buffalo
across a dry paddy
bordered with bamboo hedges.
A subjugated country, they cannot speak
regret or even sorrow
the ploughed fields
seeded with forgiveness.
Rubber trees grow in groves around
the memorial cross
milk bleeding into collection cups.
Red earth clings to his shoes.