by R.M. Cook Barela
1999 ©

I turned quickly to catch a glimpse of the shadows at my side.
The images and companions are mine forever more,
gifts they are from a far and distant war.

Quick and vague, dark and gray
always faster than my gaze
far from my vision, yet so very near.

Are they friend or foe?
The spirits of those I loved in war?
Or are they the devil's demons
come out to settle the score?

I do not fear them or what they represent
displaced shadows, impressions of my soul.

They stand there in the doorways of another world
that all warriors must enter when they kill in war.

A warrior hears what others cannot hear
A warrior sees what others cannot see
A warrior smells what others cannot smell
A warrior tastes what others cannot taste
A warrior feels what others cannot feel
A warrior senses what others cannot sense

Always at my side, the shadows in silence they abide.

*     *     *
The author: R.M. Cook Barela, served in Vietnam 1967–1968,
as a machine gunner with 1st platoon, India Company 3/7, 1st Marine Division. Today he is a Christian pastor residing in Riverside, CA.

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Shadows at My Side