Where Memory Is Strongest

That summer
morning came crying from my mother's room
as sister's fearful echo filled our halls.
Father touched my shoulder
in a way which felt like love
his heart shuttered by the uniform he wore (I thought he was.)
This moment to my angry brother lost
in the shout of a slamming door
others lost forever
never known.
Then silence as the long day slowly grew.

In my war-room/bedroom
a thousand fighters suspended from its sky
frozen in their dusty dives
painted plastic faces behind canopies
aiming weapons at paper warships
caught by camera, not missiles
an instant before they died.
I wonder, as I have before
if this could be the end foretold
by air-raid drills at school
and placid television voices intoning transit times
of minutemen with radar eyes.

I idle through streets of vacant driveways, Xeroxed homes
joining other father's sons
drifting in a slowly swelling tide
to wearily alight
a flock upon a hillside by the sea
waiting patiently to die.

life exerts itself most at the worst of times
and where the hill's grassy belly swells up to the shadow of trees
there are sounds
the assault of surf on beach below
promising love to land it slowly erodes
noise from cars, pets
Late one fine Summer's eve
distant voices surrender meaning to the wind
dancing eccentric orbits
about whispered imprecations
of the waves.

notes from the nuclear age