An old, straight-backed man, chest holding
tight as armor since Korea, looks at me,
a woman walking alone
in the wide open park
designed by Olmstead
according to Wilson’s biophilia
so I can see predators
yet never be far from a tree.

The man meanders in the afterglow of yesterday’s parade:
the series of thoughts that habitually resolve
the triggers of memory have completed their cycle
again, and again after hearing the news helicopter and again
watching TV last night and again after the radio thanked him
for his service.

Yet when he sees me, his face scrambles from concern
through a split second of stifled rage
to a small smile—
pride—and I think I might read his mind
in this confounding, conflating age, as he
looks at me and thinks:

that’s what I fought for, so she
can walk freely
without a scarf on her head,

without fear.

As if.