“The determination and machismo of this war has not changed,” wrote Vicente, “and yet it has agitated me in deep ways. There is, I think, a mute despair among us, but it is tempered by the same resolve we clothed ourselves in at its beginning.
“We still, to a man, yearn for a bit of simplicity and homeliness in our days: a length of hickory to stir the hearth coals, a blackened spoon we can polish and preserve. Or, simply, a piece of bread beneath a soup bowl. But — and I write this with great reluctance — I cannot rationalize why we are still fighting. Our days are forged by anxiousness and irresolución, and we are steeped in sloughy maroon soils; the air, a perpetual spray of crimson tissue, chokes us, and beclouds our eyes. We are hungry to advance, but more, we are starving for this to be done.
“I beg you forgive me my propensity for awful detail, but I cannot seem to exorcise these thoughts. There is such foulness in the air. I cannot remember, or even imagine, the fragrance of your hair. When I close my eyes, it is to reach for you. But now, as I am, slanted inside the torn shell of some beast’s remains, my trousers pierced by rocks, my bootlaces rotting in clots, the remains of my tobacco, wet crumbs, I think I shall rest for a moment. I will write you another letter, and of sweeter things. But now, I cannot think of anything that can calm me more than the thought of you, and home.”