PTSD in a Vietnamese Restaurant

by Doug D’Elia

I can’t take my eyes off my
Vietnamese waiter, mid-forties,
boney shoulders, thin hips,
speaking in that all too familiar
broken English.
Who’s your Daddy?
Did I fight him in the war?
Were you with the bad guys?
Did your parents wear the
black pajamas?

What’s that noise
coming from the kitchen?
Who are those men,
shuffling around?
I see them, when
the kitchen door
swings open
getting ready
in those all too familiar
hats, fixing bayonets,
talking in that all too
familiar language.

I can see my waiter,
the informant,
in the kitchen
talking with the soldiers
pointing my way,
like Judas in the garden
of Gethsemane.

I see their sandals and boots
from under my table,
running around the room.
Searching. Customers shouting
in Vietnamese, tables being over
turned like Jesus in the Temple.
My waiter pulling back the white
table cloth, exposing my
hiding place.
“Sir! Sir! You order now?”