Thursday, November 05, 2009

Remembrance — Martin

How do we remember what occurred long before we were born? Why should we? To me remembrance of the two world wars, is not necessarily synonymous with supporting our government’s involvement in Afghanistan, nor necessarily opposed to it. It is a consciousness of what happened, an attempt to understand why it happened, and an appreciation of those who risked their lives, and those who lost their lives.

Part of my remembrance is reflecting on the involvement of my father in WWII and my grandfather in WWI. Here is a poem which I wrote from the letters my grandfather wrote home to Canada during the 1914-1918 war. He was writing to a girl with whom a friendship was ripening into a romance. I am writing from the perspective of one who knows how the story ends. This poem comes from my collection, Poiema.


She is so far away that his words take more than a month
to span the gap Based on this equation I am more than
800 times further away down a one-way street
holding his words in their guarded plastic sleeves

He must be careful what he says Even an orderly
in the ambulance corps needs to be censored
so he speaks in generalities of their destination
& their activities & of her brother with trench fever

The moon moving through the clouds
sings of his loneliness & of the girl on Princess Avenue
down whose sidewalk his mind freely moves
even though an ocean & a war block his way

He censors himself for the blind ping pong of their
relationship is like the image of a horse-drawn ambulance
moving beyond a line of trees though perhaps
as unnerving & unpredictable as “Fritzy’s big guns”

Her most recent response is to something distant
& preliminary She doesn’t know
that after eighteen months he’s finally advanced
through dangerous terrain to the word love

A quarter of my genetic makeup is in the hand
that pens the words & a quarter in the hand
that eagerly opens the envelope & so I know
in my bones what he can only hope

D.S. Martin is Music Critic for Christian Week. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at:


Peter Black said...

Thank you for sharing your poetry and this slice of your heritage, Don.
Maybe I'll get to hear you do a reading of this piece in person, one of these days!

Marcia said...

Wonderful work, Don.

fudge4ever said...

Mmmmm.Love the perspective,especially in your last paragraph.
Pam Mytroen

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