The Donut Dolly
Author: Shiloh


She sat there, in her new fatigues,
with the red cross on her shoulder,
and her last name on a cloth nametag
sewn over the pocket.
On the table in front of her
were a few stacks of paperbacks,
a few new decks of cards,
packets of writing paper and envelopes,
and a canteen cup full of ballpoint pens.
At the other end of the table
there was a mermite can of coffee,
paper hot drink cups,
and paper packets of sugar and powdered cream,
and a bunch of plastic spoons in another canteen cup.
In between the coffee and the books
were a couple trays piled high with plain and powdered donuts.
She was a Donut Dolly,
and she said her name was Linda,
and she had only been in country a month,
and this was her first time out of base camp.
They had choppered in to our fire support base,
and Linda and another girl had been dropped,
along with the table and the goodies,
to bring a bit of warmth and cheer to us,
and maybe make us feel a little better
by being able to talk to a lady,
to have a cup of coffee or a donut,
to pick up a paperback,
or just to go through the motions
of trying to live, for a moment,
what might be considered a small bit of normal life.
The other girl was in a small group by a sandbagged bunker,
that listened as she played her guitar,
singing folk songs, protest songs,
as they tried to forget the war for a short while.
While the other girl was an old hand at this,
Linda was still shy and a bit hesitant.
While the other girl traded risque jokes,
Linda talked about growing up on a farm in Ohio,
and the fact that she wanted to do something
to make a difference,
so she had joined the Red Cross,
and asked for assignment to South Vietnam.
She was the second in her family, she said,
to be sent to Vietnam.
Her brother had been here as a Marine
and had been hit at someplace called the Citadel.
We told her where that was,
and she smiled and said her brother was home now,
learning to use his new leg.
She was new to the game,
but she was good at talking,
good at making you feel ok for a few minutes,
and the coffee actually tasted pretty good,
because you had her for company,
along with the donuts.
Just like in the movies,
she took some pictures out of her purse,
to show us her brother, her folks,
some pictures of the farm,
and the boy who was going to college back home,
and was waiting for her.
Just like in the movies,
that was when they hit us,
incoming from two sides,
arching up and dropping,
the impacts showering us with dirt and rocks
while we scattered and tried to find cover.
Three of us dove over the table
to take Linda to the ground and cover her,
when the first rounds hit us,
and while the guy next to me got hit in the leg,
he smiled as he rolled away,
saying that at least he took the hit for Linda.
When me and the other guy rolled away,
we saw, however,
that Linda would not be coming back out to the field again,
and the pictures she had in her hands were crushed in her fist,
as if her last act was to protect her memories.
She was a Donut Dolly,
and I never met another one,
until we dedicated The Wall in D.C. in November of '82.
I met Marge, the guitar player,
who was with us and Linda,
at Firebase Remagen, near Song Be,
when Linda got her ticket punched.
Marge had pictures, and we cried together,
and remembered Linda...
who was a Donut Dolly.


Comments on this poem/writing:

Bipedalguy ( -- Tuesday, November 11 2008, 08:00 am


I haven't heard "Donut Dolly" since Korea. They visited us nearly once a week.
I presume your reference to "Linda wouldn't be coming back to the field again" and "getting her ticket punched" means she was dead. That's too sad for words. Maybe that's why you referred to it the way you did.
I hope I was wrong, and that Linda was o.k.
Peace, Bipe.
shiloh ( -- Tuesday, November 11 2008, 08:09 am

look again...

11th line from the bottom, bipe...
Bipedalguy ( -- Tuesday, November 11 2008, 01:50 pm

Didn't miss that line.

I guess I was looking for a way to believe she didn't die.
Name:                                           Remember Me

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