Witness

There is nothing casual
about casualties of war.

It is serious business deciding
which of the wounded
get Medevac’d or left behind
on the battlefield.

It is not the ones
with the most severe of injuries
who are transported
elsewhere for treatment

but the ones with the best
chance of surviving them
that make the trip.

“There’s nothing we can do.”

Try telling this
to a fellow soldier
about their buddy in arms
whose last letter they have
safely tucked away

just in case.

Try telling their mother, father;
sister, brother; son, daughter;
or spouse

that someone else’s mother,
father, sister, brother, son, daughter
or spouse

was picked instead.

No one envies the Medic
who must make this choice.

But sometimes even the chosen
don’t survive their journey home.

Maritza Rivera, a Puerto Rican poet living in Maryland, is author of A Mother’s War, written during her son’s two military tours in Iraq.

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