What She Remembers

September 22, 2008
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The class trip to sun-baked Italy;
it was supposed to be
in frivolity
and chocolate gelato.
Maybe a little studying…
but mainly just laughter and
new experiences.

The memory that she
can still picture with
fierce clarity
is the visit to that
war memorial.
Was it WWI? WWII?
She can’t remember.
What she can
of hundreds
of gray slab rocks.
names embossed—and dates.
Almost cruelly, her neighbor pointed to those dates.
“He was 18.” He muttered, “That one, 16 or maybe 17.”

Her sister is
Her brother is
And she couldn’t help but wonder—
What of the little sisters?
What of the fathers? The mothers?
Of the brothers, the friends, fighting alongside one another—
A Sisyphean task—bravely shouldered.

It was supposed to be a trip filled with pleasure—yet
she remembers the war memorial sharper than the laughter
or the gelato.
And she remembers the tears she shed, over those men,
boys, some of them.
Dead, before their prime.
Their bodies buried, forgotten.

But she remembers.

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