Missing in Action

Dust collects on pine book shelves, carven with intricacy and care.
It’s been a long while since you left
the vague remnants of a hug still on my chest.
Since, the dust has gathered, awaiting your arrival
droves and droves still settle upon the hard wood.
I alone know why you departed
“My country needs me,” you said,
donning your camouflage uniform.

Our bed creaks with the extra weight
as you lie down next to me
smelling of caramel and mint tea.
Your breathing,
heavy, fast,
slows to a steady rhythm.
I remember your heart next to mine,
the warmth and utter completeness.

Eyes wide, I turn to study your face once more,
memorizing the subtle upturn of your lips
red, like an Arizona sunset, pursed, as if in thought.
And the hair you wrestle with at any given time
a curly brown mess, with strands that cover your right eye
which matches your hair in color, as does its counterpart.

I can’t see them now, resting on our bed
nor can I enjoy your laugh,
a pealing giggle that rises in pitch, depending
whether or not the joke’s a pun.
You rise now, at half-past two
A bright yellow cab idles by the curb.

The hug I was speaking of comes
on our front lawn, shining with dew.
Our lips meet for a final time,
the ring in my pocket burns with an intensity to match the Sun.
But I cannot bring myself to act on the moment.

If the time comes
and the dust is cleared from the shelves
it might happen.
If that same lovely smile remains.
So many “ifs” and
so little chance of my love returning.

Red lips never return to our home,
and yes, I still consider it ours.
I am never graced with a whiff of mint tea again.
Even now, the ring remains on the carven pine bookshelves
where the dust has grown thicker
and thicker.

poem by Dylan Angle, age 13
2014 Gold Key, Silver Medal
Desert Canyon Middle School, Scottsdale

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