Regret comes later.
I learned courage there. I learned of death as I watched them burn. Death choked me as I watched others drown in the sea, later-- and far away, covered by NBC.
I imagined myself shooting... killing. For patriotism...?...for "my country"...?
Yet I still see his eyes, envisage his brown skin, warm. We are the same, but I will kill him without an exhale. Without an exhale. Without an inhale. And I find, these decades later, that I cannot complete that inhale or exhale. It is shortened -- sliced to quarters.
Shallow, so shallow, just like my life is now.
For everything, now, in the present, is thin and transparent. This present life does not seem to exist; ghostly, people move through each other and through me, I see them through the surface--they are always far away and muddled in their proximity. I remain underwater, looking up through the blurred ripples; cold, untouchable, knowing.
That "patriotism" formed a monster of desire in me -- a desire to bleed. I welcomed all enemies, for I would mow them down with my "patriotism". I became both omnipotent and ignorant in my allegiance, as my friends died beside me for The Cause.
Those Green Eyes follow me today
... to date...
and I sing your song of farewell and youth.
Not much later, many miles away in the safety of warm relations, frying bacon, outdated carpet, and brightly-lit Christmas trees, I watched others of our kind burn and drown, a world away. I read of deaths and struggle and justified rebellion in black-and-white print.
The pictures were in color, though.
I still wonder why the print was set black on a striated-creamy white background of newsprint, while death was splattered in color. I can taste the saltwater of the drowned.
The painful winter before, we regaled each other in that plaza with songs and guitar of the Eagles and Scorpions:
"Welcome to the Hotel California.. such a lovely place..." and, "Is there really no chance to start once again? I'm still loving you..."
In that circle of warm welcome, I learned to embrace other songs, foreign to my tongue.
A season later, I watched you all burn.
I watched others drown.
I became drenched in my own rage and sputtered in helplessness.
I still suffocate 3 decades later.
Yet I seek out your green eyes.
And I thank you for that one bright memory among the Horrors.