I was six when I was taught
to wash my hands with soap and water.
That was the age I was tall enough
to reach the sink and the bar of soap.
I learned to fill the air with reciting
one of several poems from Now We Are Six
that took at least twenty seconds
to scrub my hands long enough.
I did the math to calculate
that boys three times older than myself
fought the Vietnam War
and died in the jungles and on the hillsides.
In the TV news reels I saw
only a few of the soldiers had clean hands.
This began my daily protests.
Not about the Vietnam war.
But about washing my hands before supper
after playing baseball all afternoon.
copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney