An Unforgivable Sin
by Joe Shea

Wai Ki Ki Hawaii, 1963:

A soldier between wars
living like a beachcomber
surfeit of suntanned girls
tasting of sea salt and teriyaki
smelling of coconut oil and Pekaki.

Blood red sunsets paint cumulus across the sky.
The west wind has a faint odor of napalm.
Oblivious to looming carnage
strutting, self indulgent and certain of perpetuity,
our soldier lives in martyr’s paradise.

Fading beauty she lives next door with
her much younger husband.  They’re surfers.
They exist in the moment.
"Good morning" she says with twinkling eyes
as our soldier passes with last night's lady,
"good morning" he shyly replies.
There is a fragrance of sea air and Arpege.

Then husband surfs off with a mermaid.
Devastated she flounders in his wake.
Weeks pass but she does not appear.
Our soldier has heard but is unconcerned.
He has forgotten her.

Then one red evening, as he departs
for some trifling tryst, she appears.
She has been waiting.
With haunted eyes, “Could you?
I mean would you?”

His stunned surprise is her answer.
Her eyes look quickly away.
She retreats into her apartment.
Our soldier stands rooted in confusion
and embarrassment.

South East Idaho, winter 2012:   

Our soldier sits before his fire
sees her eyes in the flames
the loneliness the anguish and pain.
He can’t even remember her name
Notwithstanding intimacy remains

Posted 10 August, 2013