The Guard at the Binh Thuy Bridge by John Balaban
How Still he stands as mists begin to move,
as morning, curling, billows creep across
his cooplike, concrete sentry perched mid-bridge
over mid-muddy river.
Stares at bush green banks which bristle rifles, mortars, men -- perhaps.
No convoys shake the timbers. No sound but water slapping boat side, bank saides, pilings.
He's slung his carbine barrel down to keep the boring dry, and two banana-clips instead of one are taped to make, now, forty rounds instead of twenty.
Droplets bead from stock to sight; they bulb, then strike his boot.
He scrapes his heel, and sees no box bombs floating towards his bridge.
Anchored in red morning mist a narrow junk rocks its weight.
A woman kneels on deck staring at lapping water.
Wets her face.
Idly the thick Rach Binh Thuy slides by.
He aims. At her. Then drops his aim. Idly.