His Limbo Soliloquy
By Carl Palmer, Army
Writing Type: Poem
By Carl "Papa" Palmer
--University Place, WA
but now I’ve got my privacy. No family feeling forced to visit
or hold vigil in my netherworld, he confides through the phone."
Both of us former Army soldiers placing us on common ground
made introductions easier with the usual “where were we when”
comparisons of duty assignments all military members embrace.
Though sharing multiple telephone calls these past seven months
since my assignment to be his companion as a hospice volunteer,
I have yet to meet him face-to-face due to pandemic restrictions.
Using his bedside number at the nursing home I can call anytime,
not worry about visiting hours, ask if he’s busy, got time to talk.
His answer’s most always the same, "Just busy here being alone,
too close to death to complain." Clicking me to speaker, he begins
what he calls “me-memories from a time when when was when.”
Mostly musing of being anywhere but there, lost in an actual
blurring “what was with what is” behind and in front of his
recalling dreams as a younger man, of a future in past perfect
And times talking of present times from his no man’s land
"All days end as they begin in purgatory, today recopying
"Forgive me for only thinking of myself; I just need you to
hear I’m here.
Inside I’m your age, the two of us sharing a brew at the NCO
years ago and oceans away, comrades-in-arms talking of our day."
To me he’s the sergeant with permanent change of station orders
in transition for his final mission, ending his time on active
in hopes his God is religious and his terminal assignment is
Notes: The 90-year-old veteran on Hospice, diagnosed with PTSD and advanced dementia residing in the assisted living facility on pandemic lockdown allowing no visitors other than me through his bedside telephone.