Friday, May 27, 2016

Memorial Day

(re-post from my other blog, the now-defunct Facile Nation, 5/25/2009)

I published the poem below at BigBlondeBlog more than a year ago but it’s appropriate to remember my father and honor him as a veteran of World War II – he was the radio operator on a B-24; they were the lead crew, flying bombing missions over Germany. Happily he survived the war, unlike so many of his generation.

He didn’t talk about his war experience much when we were kids. I suppose children aren’t a good audience for war reminiscences: they lack subtlety and don’t understand ambivalence. But in the last decade or so of his life he started to open up more. I remember watching The Tuskegee Airmen with him and he told me about his good ol’ southern boy pilot and their bomb run over Berlin, how the Tuskegee Airmen were their air support, going up against the first jets, and his pilot just shut up because –racist or not– he could appreciate that the Tuskegee Airmen never lost a bomber!

After VE Day they did a number of photographic missions; their regular pilot wasn’t available so a fighter pilot was assigned – and what a wild ride that was! An unladen B-24 has an awful lot of power and this pilot flew like he was still in a dogfight. When they landed back in England there were branches stuck in the bomb bay doors…

A Poem for My Father–

Shortly before Thanksgiving in 2007, while working with my organizer lady, I had a profound emotional experience; the next day I read in Diana Glyer’s The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community about Owen Barfield writing a poem for C.S. Lewis on the first anniversary of his death and it struck me that I should write about what happened the day before. Here is the result:

in sorting, shifting house
I came upon my dead father’s watch, a wristwatch
with large face and metal band
that marked it as of a certain time
in marking time

In my throat there caught and formed a swelling egg of grief, of loss

Brushing lightly across the well of tears
I staved them off
suppressed them as inconvenient
for I was working and not alone

Please, I pray, do not let this be a final dismissal
of his import or my gratitude

He was as large as life: expansive and wise
fixed and blindered
quick to laugh and quick to glare
too smart by half and always giving credit where perhaps little credit was due

I am his true child

I will miss him until Heaven.

November 15, 2007 © Lynn Maudlin, all rights reserved

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