James Deitz

LETTING HER GO

James Deitz (Seoul, South Korea)

 

 

I finally visited her, it

took years, a decade, to

send the message, asking

to meet, asking if she

wanted the dog tags that

were rightfully hers. There

in metal, in the black and

red, her light brown eyes

shining, somehow reflecting

off this charred metal;

memories melted. They

begin to glisten, red

stained letters.

 

It was difficult to look

at her without feeling

what I no longer wanted

to feel, without thinking

of Alicia. Of course, that

smile, her smile was present

on her sister’s face. The inviting

left dimple asking

me to stay, to stare longer

but this time it was forced.

 

As I handed Angela Adams,

Alicia’s dog tags, a slight

glimmer, a mortar flash

shining off half-scorched

metal, burned memories passing

from flesh to flesh. A communion

from another explosion in

the mortar’s echo chamber.

 

I constantly sipped my caramel macchiato,

at Kora Kora Coffee in New Braunfels.

After sitting and staring,

I finally asked why,

“Why did you become a journalist?”

 

“I wanted to help people

understand

the war, what it does

to veterans.

Last month, I wrote a column

about an Army vet, who was

challenged by a professor

for bringing Athena to class

because he didn’t look disabled.

The vet argued ADA rights, but

the professor declared he didn’t

care, it was his classroom.

Jeremy led his dog out of class.

He never returned.”

 

She also moves her thumb around

and around, rubbing the dog tags.

She’s also searching for parts.

 

James Deitz is a veteran who served in the military for five years with two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and taught English in Korea for three years. He has enjoyed reading and writing poetry since high school. However, after his first war experience, writing became a sense of therapy and a necessary way of expressing emotions—redirecting trauma into art. He lives in Seoul, South Korea, teaching technical and creative writing.