Poetry / Poetry Tribute / Uncategorized

Looking Homeward

My father’s younger brother

followed him into World War II

like a pesky little brother would

ready to do his part

ready to make his mark

These two blonde, blue-eyed boys

one year apart in age

Uncle Dail followed my father

down the dirt roads

that they drove sometimes too fast

from a place where time lay easy

fields spread out in a place

harboring more sand than trees

They left the small farm

with perfect rows of beans

a blackberry orchard

and a grapevine that made

small sour grapes

no matter the careful tending

of my grandmother’s slender hands

in the middle of this still world

they left for chaos

Uncle Dail was

not old enough to go

when he signed up for the Navy

there my grandmother stood

broken hearted

twirling her auburn hair

natural highlights of golden honey

hands nervously smoothing her apron

tears welling up in her green eyes

as a mad man raged

as a mad man fumed

on a mad mission

of mad hate

to change the world order

My Uncle Dail

slight gap in his front teeth

with his All American boy smile

determined and good looking

but he had to keep up

with my father

Evenings found my grandmother

writing furious letters

the Department of Defense

“checking into the matter”

and not caring much

for that war must be won

relegating combat now

to the farmers

Off they went

my father and uncle

on two different ships

My grandmother picking up

her crochet needle

halfway around the world

Loud she was

in her criticism of war

her only two sons

now both gone

My father on board

the USS Ticonderoga

My uncle off to Europe

both coasting upon

the destiny of the seas

Uncle Dail mastered the camera

both from behind and in front

documented his adventure

sent his mother poetry

I see kids now

that won’t stand for the pledge

and they tell me

history is useless

Are they freaking kidding me?

I tell them

ordinary people make history

write it too

Uncle Dail was on board

big ships, giant crashing waves

sea storms while

airplane strips cleared for landing

Forces aligned, the Allies rallied

with the emergence

of these fresh-faced American kids

called to defend

proud to defend

way back in another era

before detachment

and eroded family values

Uncle Dail sent

home his letters and cards

teased my grandfather’s politics

My grandmother engulfed

in each correspondence

sitting on the screened-in porch

her copper colored tresses

gleaming in the sun

her elegant fingers caressing

the envelopes

praying for safe returns

In the middle of it all

on the USS Ticonderoga

my father figured

his weekly pay

the distance to and from

this port and that one

went to the ship’s shows

made photos with

blonde Hawaiian girls

all was quiet

D Day came and went

my Uncle Dail

sailing those mystical seas

fortunate for no hits

filed to go home for leave

back to the farm

with the beans and berries

Then somehow in a car

on his way home

all adventure ended there

like James Dean

on a road

with a hitchiker

My grandmother was never

the same after that

this ironic life to blame

she had to face that flag drapped coffin

after all

I held her hand

long after those

two little boys

put their little hands in hers

I held her hand

when her fingers turned knobby

with age, her eyes grew dimmer

but there was still some fiery copper

in her hair

She would tell of these moments

as her thoughts strayed down

one of those dirt roads

when I was her youngest

tomboy granddaughter

on an isolated farm

where the blackberry vines still bloomed

and the grapes stayed a little bit sour

“And how do you like

your blue-eyed boy now,

Mr. Death?”

Uncle Dail


18 thoughts on “Looking Homeward

  1. This story was gorgeous, heroic, beautiful and emotional. How horrible! I feel for your grandmother and her loss of one of her ♡♡ precious sons, Lana. Your last lines were amazing. You should submit this in a contest. It would win, hands down. Hugs, Robin

  2. It’s true. Ordinary people (fathers, uncles, brothers, daughters, etc) write history and usually for the best. Alas our leaders also write history and not always for the best at all.

    Semper Fi, as the US Marines would say.

  3. Pingback: Featured Bloggers 1/15/16: Networking 101 | Dream Big, Dream Often

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