Snow flurries mark this bleak day
I put off far too long. The nations
capitol slumbers under grey skies,
as I walk an aimless path seeking
courage and wisdom to confront
the past. I stand before Lincoln,
straining for a greeting whispered
in the wind, a low moan my answer.
I shudder at the sound, a visceral feeling
from deep in the bowels of my soul.

The only color in this Stark landscape
of leafless trees and windswept walks,
a blood red rose I carry in my black
gloved hand. Its weight the heavy burden
I carry. Little shield against the cold,
an old beret adorns my head, parting
gift from a friend long dead.
Why am I here? A question asked
a thousand times, when just beyond
his legacy lies.

I see the bronze men standing, silent
Sentinels, guardians of the Wall.
“Jungle Rats” in boony hats frozen
for all eternity in metal uniforms beckon
me forward. Their artist has captured
their war weary posture and the burden
they carried. Loss leaps from them
and grasps me with spectral hands,
constricting my throat and clutching
my wounded heart.

Vision blurred by tears, the Wall swims
into view. Its blackness seems to absorb
every atom from the air, until at last
my reflection stairs back at me, mocking
my presence. My eyes look out
from the name I feared to see,
and I watch my red rose topple
and come to lie amidst the hope
that peace can bring rest once
and for all time to my wounded breast.

"Under Grey Skies, my red rose lies" ©
T. Owen Schrick
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