Category Archives: war

Thirteen folds

Thirteen folds

Not so long ago, down at the theater, we temporarily had to take down a large American flag. The man I was working with treated this job with the utmost care. I found the whole experience strangely moving.  To share with friends over at the dVerse Poets Pub.

 

Thirteen folds

He would not permit that it touch
the ground. The Flag. Methodically,
he gave his orders, calling forth
a kind of reverence in that dusty hall.

Fold lengthwise once, twice, he said,
making sure the stars are facing out.
Then beginning at the far end from
the field of blue, take the striped corner

of the folded edge and fold a triangle
upwards to the open edge. Turn the
triangle inwards parallel to the top edge,
and make another triangle.

Keep folding triangles, carefully,
solemnly, eleven times in all,
until you reach the end and all that
shows is a perfect three-cornered hat,

a pillow of stars on a free blue sky.
We followed every instruction..
It was as if his life depended on it.
Maybe ours did too.

 

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Echo Taps

Today is Memorial Day here in the USA.  For the past couple of years, a local group has taken  part in an effort called EchoTaps – making a line of bugle players across town, from one cemetery to another, playing a chain of “taps” one after the next.  They do it in November for Veterans Day, but to me it would be just as appropriate for Memorial Day, remembering all those who have died in war, and all the families and friends who have a hole left in their lives.  It is always a moving experience to stand out on our street and listen.  I tried to catch a little of last year’s event in this poem (the form is a bop).  Here it is, for all who remember today…

Echo Taps

All the way to school, we see the small flags
stuck in the ground, each with its own number,
planted with dignity in stony soil,
anonymous integers adding up
the cost of sacrifice – a mother’s tears,
an empty room, a raft of nights wide-eyed

each one unique in this unbroken line.

Flag number thirty-nine is on our block.
I clutch my arms around me in the breeze
and watch a kid dressed in his Sunday best
hold his horn, fingering it nervously.
From some distant point, taps is echoing
towards us, from one player to the next.
A car pulls up, and the driver gets out.
We all listen, heads bowed, to the bugles,

each one unique in this unbroken line.

At his appointed time, our young man plays
the aching beauty of an elegy,
gone far too soon, swallowed up in the wind.
This singular loss is enough for me,
a tiny glimpse into the greater pain,
and pride, of every family that serves

each one unique in this unbroken line.

 

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