Vietnam Memorial

by Bob Bradshaw
The Writer's Block
Honorable Mention, December 2021
Judged by Terence Culleton

I never knew Tommy,
my older brother. He was a name
Mom teared up over.

Mom said he was in heaven
looking down on us.
I had an image in my head

of heaven as a bridge
over a pond—
a bridge where Tommy sat,

gazing down at us
all dressed up on Sundays
with our faces bright, like koi.

Today Sis went with us
to meet Tommy. Her dress a pastel blue
like her favorite fish, the ochiba.

Ochiba is Japanese
for “leaves that have fallen”.
We searched for Tommy’s name

on that long black stream
of a wall. When Dad found it
he crumbled to his knees.

Mom, sobbing, left flowers
and a handwritten note
on the ground.

Our reflections
hovering together like koi
in the gleaming blackness,

we turned and drifted away,
Sis waving back.
The sky was filled

with cumulus, the clouds
like crumpled tissues being blown
about at the wall’s