When Zach came back from Afghanistan – Poetry by Kelsie Donaldson

Rene Magritte – Faraway looks

he came back as flinches at fireworks or dropped dinner plates. As flimsy excuses to leave the
house whenever the kids would put on Call of Duty. He came back as a war of words shouted in a restless sleep. He came back as a measured walk with even steps, his back straight as a grenade pin. He came back as a whiplash-inducing vacillation between holing himself up in the bedroom and partying in bars until 2 am. As the unshakable addiction to drinking every last drop he could get his hands on, knowing he had a problem but also knowing it was the only thing that could stop the flashing images of amputated legs and the smell of arsenic and mud. He came back as the frantic insistence we move our bed so that our backs aren’t to the door. As fury towards the man in a white coat they forced him to see—the one who reduced his life to a four-letter diagnosis. He came back as a cool indifference to my touch, which he once told me he couldn’t live without. And maybe he was telling the truth because he came back as a shell of a life, a shadow of a man. When Zach came back from Afghanistan, he didn’t come back at all.


About the Poet

Kelsie lives in South Lyon, MI with her parents and younger brother. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2019 with a degree in professional writing and now works in the communications industry. When she’s not reading or writing, she can often be found playing the ukulele or cuddling up with her yellow lab, Keila.

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