Jacob Reisinger

A Façade of Light

Early summer, 
Before the wet Korean heat drowned us, 
My section participated 
In the annual show of force,
A parade of Humvees and Paladins,
Yet there were no cheers or children 
Waving as we made our way through the broken streets.

We made it to “the field,”
More like a loose gravel path 
With cemented 100-foot pads
Nestled in the lull of a neighboring mountainside.

When we arrived, metallic beacons erected 
A forest of green amongst cement and gravel.
In the murmurs before metal rained,
We smoked butts and played who’s closest 
To the encapsulating wire fence. 

My closest friend, Bulger, said,  
I wonder why this is here?
Nudging towards the fence
That looked like it worked 
At a max security prison on the weekends. 
I couldn't help but wonder whose existence was restricted. 
This would be the brushstroke of anxiety  that would paint the following days.

Through our group’s murmurs, 
A piercing sound erupts:
We all sprint to our battle stations.

Paladins rooted like Great Redwoods
Purged 155mm shells into the heavens. 
Their departure shocked the earth
Like a lone fallen tree. 

The noise of metal, 
Now becoming meteor, 
Rips through the valley below 
And the adjacent mountain.

Underneath the adjacent cratered hillside, 
A small village sat unprovoked,
A short walk from where we shoveled our metal. 
Night ops:

I watch the illum rounds
Dance with the horizon 
Until the stars cut in. 

I drift into the opaque.
I think about how all day
Villagers must hear
The screaming of falling shells. 

All night they must see illumination rounds’ light
Consume every bit of still darkness
Sheet metal and plywood huts feebly provide. 

How many children must have wished upon 
These illuminating stars?
How many wishes dissipated
Under this façade of light? 

After a few days of fire, the villagers
Stormed our now closed gates.
Bulger was on the first gate guard shift. 

I caught up to him later, and he told me 
They reached through the wire to grab 
His body, and when they couldn’t,
he was spat on.

He continued on about utter mayhem,
How the police came and swatted away
The villagers like houseflies. 

I felt like Bulger was spat on 
For all of us that day.

Jacob Reisinger is a senior at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio; he is pursuing a degree in English Creative Writing. While his academic research primarily focuses on veteran literature and poetry, he enjoys spending time with his siblings and reading at Carlson Library. 

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