The War and the Cage

(2-4 May 1994) after Mary Howitt

I wouldn’t, in retrospect, have become a soldier. Too young to know better, I registered for the draft and took a student deferment, an easy substitute for having conscientious objections. I would meet guys in college on the G.I. bill who had been to Vietnam and who couldn’t, with drugs, liquor, sex, or rock and roll, free themselves from the experience. I wouldn’t, in retrospect, have demeaned myself to get the girl—not for her open lips or her brown eyes. Too needy to help it, I did everything I could but she wouldn’t have me. I should have been free of her; she said she would be only my friend; but I was stubborn, believing I had chosen to suffer, unwilling to leave the cage I had built for my desire.