Men were selected for the Vietnam war
by dates of birth. I watched a drama where
schoolboys sat round their own screens, waiting for
a voice to pick a date out of the air.
‘The twenty-sixth of June’. I felt a thrill
of horror, as the actors froze – that’s my
son’s birthday. Young men can refuse to kill;
much later on, they can’t refuse to die.
Now, the Reaper cuts a first swathe through
the ranks of men who did and didn’t fight;
no guessing if it’s him, or him, or you;
we’ll soon find out. It’s random, like the date.
The men, and smaller groups of women, go;
this is one war to which you can’t say no.
by Merryn Williams