April 15th, 2013 / 7:45 pm

Finish line


Time may be a sedative, for it’s always harder to know who exactly the bad people were, yet so easy to tell — in the incessant now from which we cannot run — who the bad people are. Either moral clarity diminishes with time, or we simply stop caring, the euphemism being humility. Prisoner of war Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm is greeted by his family at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California on March 17, 1973, about a year after Phan Thi Kim Phuc, aged 9, was photographed running from a South Vietnamese napalm attack on their own land after it had been occupied by the North. Richard Nixon, in his earnest paranoia loop, wondered to his Chief of Staff “if that was fixed,” upon seeing the iconic photo. Denial may be war’s greatest offense. The Strim girlfriend (wife, or sister) will come to know, understand, and to be forced to love, the dark PTSD crevices welled with ink inside Strim’s newly wired brain, as Phuc will be free to recount — with whatever pre-juvenile coping mechanisms she can employ — the senseless events of that day (June 8, 1972), its morning feigning repetition, on her little village road during her 14 month hospitalization slash 17 surgical procedures which returned her skin to human. Both enemy and kin run away from their personal and global hauntings, towards the idea of freedom, to a kind of endless finish line whose ribbons have already been broken by faster folks. And so, it’s not really a finish line, but a place to run away from something by running towards something else. Everyday we show ourselves how ugly and beautiful we can be, the shinny red inside us spilled out, touching others.

One Comment

  1. Brendan Connell

      Thank you.