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Memorial Day
by Ed Bennett

My father fell somewhere
beneath a jungle canopy,
some approximate spot
never found, never sought,
a spent cinder of a
firefight long forgotten.

I remember two officers
who came to the door
with the long faces of priests.
My mother accepted the news
trying to be strong for us
as the cracks eroded
the edges of our family.

It was at graveside when
she broke, the tears
marking the end, the loss.
She reached for my hand,
oldest child of too few years,
to give her strength
that I could not find.

She handed me
the cup of her sorrow,
a private sacrament
between mother and son,
of a family transfigured
by loss, by carnal grief,
by the scourge of tears released
by the bugler's dying notes.

My mother is gone.
My brother returned from
his desert misadventure
draped in a flag with
a medal for consolation.

Again and always, this day,
I take the cup to my lips
in memoriam for the fallen,
but especially
for the shards of us
left behind.


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