Luana J. Ritch served on Active Duty with the US Army from 1977-1981, including a year deployment to Korea. She retired from the Army Reserve in 2005. She has participated in all sessions of the NNVWP since 2011. She writes about PTSD, military sexual trauma and everyday recovery.
A white blanket of pure cold,
Covering a field in unmolested beauty.
Ice crystals cling to wire fences
Hiding sharp metal barbs, biting the cold.
Heavy with snow and ice.
Slopes of green Ponderosa pine
Draped in white flocking.
Frigid winds form curtains of icy powder.
Breath freezes into white streams
Matching trails of smoke rising,
From chimneys of distant homes.
Morning silence is broken
By the crunch and slosh of feet
In semi-frozen dirty white slush
Feet numb, Hands sting.
Moisture from my breath is ice on my lip.
Suddenly, I see steam rising,
Corrugated tin of old Quonset huts.
Ice hangs in long frozen fingers from the wire
Running along a small winding Korean road.
I’m shivering in that pre-death of hypothermia.
No heater hoses leading
From a box of empty promises,
Sitting between the seats of my jeep.
Ice, packed down by traffic,
Now several inches thick,
Makes a slippery silver path.
My jeep slides out of the village.
I recall a whooping hillbilly laugh
From the Motor Sergeant as
I ask for heater hoses.
A tree branch breaks from its load.
Snapping my mind back.
Another Nevada Winter.
Finally, tire chains on my car.
One last glance at the field
In the ice of winter.