“From ‘Saving Private Ryan’” by Clifford Paul Fetters

Clifford Paul Fetters


He put his eyes together and slept.
—Piers Plowman

For me, the most difficult scene of many difficult
scenes is the moments of the Jewish-American’s death
when he is stabbed by the German soldier. They’re lying
on the floor face-to-face with the German on top.
“ Wait a second. Wait a second,” the GI says. He says it
so reasonably, sensitively, as if they’ve known each other
a long time. And the German speaks softly, coldly, soothingly,
as he forces the bayonet slow and deep into his chest.
Even after all the blood and show of body parts, this is
the most chilling, the hardest to watch. The closeness,
the delicate intimacy, just the two of them, one man
and one other man in the secret act of murder. Murder needs
only two. One to kill, one to die. “Wait a second.”

from Rattle #20, Winter 2003

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