Midnight at Noon

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I remember colors, mostly. Each time the same.
Blacksmith’s bellows roaring in my chest,
running wide-eyed yet blind. Green…whoosh…
white…crash…red…pain… black…nothing.
An Italian flag exhibition
in the darkness I would later require,
like a need to breathe shadows.
Staring on my back into the afternoon sun,
all was black, until came the star
brightly dancing in my night,
searching for me, echoing … calls of
dark’s triumph over the light.

“Here _ am,” I screamed with tongue stilled
in the absence of I. My quarry rose,
crawled atop my vacant warrior body.
I remember his angel face inquiring, inspecting
from deeply burned holes, helmet askew.
I recall thinking, “Good, looka tha’
snot bubble blowing from his top nostril.” Top?
My world tilting and righting, tilting
and righting. Hammer pounding behind my eyes,
I saw the looks of the other hunters.
I had made my kill and, as had they, gladly
left some memory of it where I fell.

No memorial stands today to that tiny death,
no stone, no scars you can see. It was
just another bit of mind I paid for a thrill ride
I barely feel yet still pains me today
when I can’t recall names, faces and sometimes me.
My body is here, crackling as it limps the stairs
from each morning’s darkness, fingers always numb
on the bannisters, tingling but not with
the excitement of all the times I rearranged
the top floor furniture in the green, white, red flashes
and the blackness that overtakes me still
like midnight at noon.

©Joseph Hesch 2012

6 thoughts on “Midnight at Noon

    • Thanks, Abi. Not so sure it resonates with my UK, non-USA, and football fan friends. Probably our lovely colleague John knows the feeling. But it was there this morning, so I wrote it.

  1. VERY nicely done, Joe! Your descriptions of the colors wooshing and racing past you and the “bubbles” in the upside nostril! You have us all laying right by your side feeling the confusion of it! The ending? Just perfect! Just perfect!

  2. Joe,
    You took me by surprise. Until I read your notes, I didn’t realize that you were referring to football. I thought it was a soldier’s story. In a way, it is, just a different soldier than I had in my mind. Astounding.

  3. Joe, that is powerful, very powerful, my friend. I played the English game of Rugby Union for more years than I care to mention, and head injury was just one of the serious injuries that do occur from time to time. I was knocked out twice in my time, but (as far as I can tell :-), didn’t suffer any lasting damage. For those who do, it must be a living hell, not only for the victims, but also for their loved ones.

    I guess we make choices in life and what we choose to do for sport is one of them. Rules have changed in Rugby since I used to play (and since the game went professional), to deflect some of the major risks, but for our kids at least, there needs to be greater awareness. Well written, Joe; not one of your most enjoyable to read, but greatly affecting.

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