Prayer Before Surgery
At this point I am not profound.
I cannot begin to say how this little expedition will turn out.
I am a farm boy again, and I do not know how they get the hay in the barn,
much less why the green corn grows and dies.
You, on the other hand, know cell one from cell two,
vein ninety-four and artery one-hundred-six and thought three-thousand,
brain two-billion-six and why you put it here.
You answer all your phone calls at once
and you never miss a syllable.
Consider this a phone call.
Remember, please, those who love me.
Remember those who need you.
And remember the barefoot boy whose heart belongs to you.
Remember the blood shed on his behalf.
Take him through the river
if a crossing indeed be ordained.
We were expendable.
We fought without a purpose,
died for a country that neither cared nor noticed.
For us no medals, parades, pretty girls;
no arms even in which to die.
We were cannon fodder.
They blew us to smithereens without a word of explanation.
Our blood cries “Why?”
from the drenched earth.
I did car accidents in the States
and vomited half a dozen times a week.
They were Band-Aid cases.
This war scarred, burned, ripped, smashed, mutilated, disintegrated more young men than you
could begin to count.
Twenty high school seniors died in my arms,
holding my hand, in a month,
in some fortnights;
hundreds more slipped away without a touch, without a prayer.
There was no time for dignity.
Death came on his pale horse
and we could not bar the door,
could not stifle his raucous mocking (I hear it still).
Listen to me, please!
All this to free no-one?
All this and no reasons?
Someone will pay, someday.
I curse you, America, for giving up without quitting.
I knew my father’s God but faintly,
till youth and a number sent me here.
And when I was sure he could not exist
he came to me in the still of a Mekong Delta night,
and I was his.
And when I asked the reasons,
he took me home and told me.
Brothers in blood, there are no human words to explain.
Charles Eggerth is a follower of Jesus Christ, often failing but always relying on grace. He believes that Christians are called to reach into other socio-economic strata, seeking to minister to physical needs so that God will open doors to deeper spiritual needs.
Artwork: “Valentine Gode Darel Hospital Bed” by Ferdinand Hodler, 1914 (Public Domain).