Vietnam's Cumulonimbus

                     -Published in Swallow the Moon 2016

My father hands me his camera:
An old Nikon SLR he got during the war.
It is old, heavy, and resilient;
Still in working condition
Except for the battery which
Needs to be fixed.

This camera is a vessel for a roll of silver film;
A vessel for creative potential.
Every frame will be burned with
Color and emotion –
And although the images may fade over time
Like the weary mind of my aging father,
The memories will never fully disappear.

As he passes down his wisdom
Of photography and art,
He tells me stories of the war:
How he slept in trenches
Next to rats who ate his rations,
How he saw his friend get
Shot and killed
(How easily it could have been him),
How the clouds were so puffy and white
He thought he could reach up and
Touch them.

My father shot many men.
Not with bullets,
But with this Nikon.
He captured every explosion,
Gun shot,
Wounded soldier,
Flower, cloud, and river.

I will carry on this legacy,
Shooting my own men through my own lens,
In hopes of finding beauty in this war filled world.
And my father can rest in peace,
Forever staring at the clouds,
Knowing that his knowledge
Did not go to waste.

​Dani Cojo