Poem: My Grandfather and His War Buddies Outside a Whiting Diner, Age 10

By David Harrity

W.J.H., Sr., b. January 31, 1924, d. May 1, 2000

I was old enough to remember your hands

waking me-the stars just beginning

to move west. But I was too young to understand.

The moon found its way down the dark, the flecks

sank to the horizon. Light was coming, morning stirring.

I was old enough to remember your hands.

Stories of your French girls and Borneo

still stand fresh in my head. I know now

that I was too young to understand.

Tobacco burned over my shoulders, the smoke’s gray taste

against my tongue. Like your coffee and wincing

in morning’s glow, I was old enough to remember your hands.

The sun broke through the trees, the new command

of dawn and warmth. In autumn’s subtle heat your friends spoke

of war and sex and bourbon. I was too young to understand.

I listened to history from men I would never see again,

then gave them the wide smile of a good boy before walking away.

I am old enough now to remember your hands.

Since that morning I have grown to understand.

David Harrity’s work has appeared in or is forthcoming from issues of Ruminate, New Southerner, Minnetonka Review, Limestone, and The Xavier Review.  A chapbook of his poems, “Morning and What Has Come Since,” was published last year by Finishing Line Press and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Kentucky Literary Award. Reach him at http://davidharrity.blogspot.com/.

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