Bill Wunder


Memorial Day 2002

I'd nearly forgotten what was
stored there until things began to appear
in the narrow, dark opening
beneath the attic door:
tips of palm fronds, fragments
of fatigues, love beads we wore under them,
acrid smoke from the burning wreckage
of a chopper with its smoldering
mail and Christmas dinners, strange aroma
of Mama-san improvising
fish-head soup, thunder
of F-4 Phantoms climbing in tandem, urgency
in their contrails, distant thump-thump
of bombs in mountains, sing-song complaints
of mothers removed from ancestral villages,
their children clinging like jungle vines.
My best friend's funeral, me on my way
to war, he on his way to a cold permanence.
His mother's sobs. My frozen breath, gleam
of the honor guard, their rifle reports, the startled
starlings erupting into the safety of an empty sky.

Today is Memorial Day. There are picnics, parades,
Wal-Mart is having one of their biggest sales
and the car dealer in town is offering double rebates.
I haven't left the house.
My hand is on the attic doorknob; I hesitate
and wonder if what lives in this room is tame now.

fr. The Bucks County Writer

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