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Memorial Day

ISSUE:  Summer 1934

These people, washed and in their best, who tread
These graves walk for the living, not the dead;
They go between the starred and blazing flags,
Which in a week of sunshine will be rags,
On errands that the dead, six feet below,
Would have to cross a universe to know;
There is no pity in them, only life.
A husband leans and listens to his wife
Because his future sons are in her power.
A widow rises from her watered flower,
Full of delicious achings of her heart.
A father stands with robust thighs apart
And glows to feel how wives beside his own
Might have enjoyed the good seed he has sown
And envy his wife her lusty sons who bend
And wrestle on the grave mound of a friend.
Young men’s eyes and girls’ eyes meet and kiss
And plan another crowd as bright as this.
A mother in her black dress for the day
Stoops and wipes the candy stains away
On a three-year cherub full of heat
And beauty gone forever from the feet
That came to his creation beautiful
Upon the mountains.
Children tug and pull
At each other’s arms and legs and smother
The tingling, rhythmed bodies of each other
With a force that travels from the sun
But cannot go six feet through earth to one
Of all who lie with crossed and useless hands.

Everyone who walks, or runs, or stands
Among these very evident white stones
Believes no more the existence of cold bones
Than mayflies newly born believe in night,
He feeds upon the holy bread of light
And turns and treads in loveliness and lust
Upon the utter fable of the dust.


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