Night Patrol by Bruce Guernsey

Night Patrol

My father never slept real well after the war
and as my mother tells, he woke in fear
so deep, so far away, he seemed to stare
straight out at nothing she could see or hear.

Or worse—she wraps her robe around her, remembering—
he’d sit there grinning, bolt upright beside her,
this mad look on his face, the bed springs quivering
with some hilarity the night had whispered.

And once, “He did this, your father, I swear he did—
he must have been still dreaming, rest his soul—
he tried to close my frightened eyes, my lids,
to thumb them shut like he was on patrol

the way he’d learned so they would sleep, the dead,
and then he blessed himself and bowed his head.”

by Bruce Guernsey

Editor’s Note: This sonnet uses dialogue and enjambment to great effect—showing the fractured psyche of a man who came back from war not entirely whole via his family’s memories of his rough nights.

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