You brought home gifts
from your tour of duty
as if from a pleasure trip,
a mini-camera for Dad,
a scarf for Mother,
and for me, chopsticks from Vietnam.
Two slender, black sticks the color of onyx
glistening in my hands,
each with inlays of pearly shell,
iridescent, in marbled gold.
They made beautiful tools for eating,
people forced into famine,
their food defoliated by war.
You choked back that year of jungle sweeps
and body bags, all of it hard to stomach
but you managed to forage a few gifts
bringing me jeweled chopsticks,
tools of sustenance,
a souvenir of your survival.
Annette Grunseth, Green Bay, is a UW Badger, a WFOP member since 1988 and is retired from a career in Marketing and PR. Her poems have appeared in Wisconsin Academy Review, Midwest Prairie Review, SOUNDINGS: Door County in Poetry, The Poeming Pigeon, Ariel Anthology and other publications. Her first book of poems, Becoming Trans-Parent, One Family’s Journey of Gender Transition is available from Finishing Line Press (2017). Her poem "Chopsticks" is part of a series of poems written in response to letters her brother wrote home from Vietnam, 1969-70. He hung on and she is still thinking about him.