As we ascend the gravel path scrolled
on the south side of McIntyre Hill
this autumn morning, we witness a terrain
washed by a crisp tangerine sunrise,
shadowed by burgundy maples, lemon
beech, and the russet pear of sassafras.
In just a week, the crayola foliage
will descend earthbound into piles.
Almost four decades ago, I remember
the platoon march through thicket
to capture a hill, the cautionary inspection
of the jungle floor for booby traps,
the aerial surveillance for snipers
perched in the cypress forest
like poised vultures hungry for flesh
decaying in this humid climate.
In the New Hampshire foothills
we carry a stained wicker basket---
inside wine glasses and a picnic:
Monterey Jack and Beringer Chardonnay,
turkey sandwiches on cracked wheat,
and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
A lone daisy sways in a breeze
fanned by an ominous black cloud formation.
I wince at the rumble of approaching thunder,
taste the best of the C-rations---fruit cocktail.
The rumble returns me to recollections
of walking "point", the increasing decibels
of rocket and mortar attacks, Charlie's clatter
of AK47's, flashbacks of M16's pumping sixty
rounds per minute, the drone of Hueys hovering
like a swarm of dragonflies over Prospect Pond.
We hurriedly fold the blanket, recork the bottle.
I scan the treetops for the red-tailed hawk.
Naugatuck River Review-Summer 2013