Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Bayonets

Three bayonets lie quiet in the chest,
brought from the second final War by my father.
German bayonets, dark and solid and precise.
Their steel is hard with pride and assurance.
It is dark blue with age and quality.
I once asked my father how he obtained them.

He said he took them off some German soldiers.
I assumed the men were dead. Perhaps it was not so
and my father never said. His field, intelligence,
rendered him silent. But I think that if I had been a son
we might have had a beer, late
in some American place
and he could have spoken more.

It is hard to tell a daughter about danger,
the stench and the catch in the throat
when the planes fly low overhead,
and rubble and bones trip your wet boots.
It would have been hard for my father
to speak of the young men, as well-trained
and proud as himself, as sure of their Furhur
as he of his Freedom.

Did they lie motionless, their blond hair stained with their blood?
Did they hand over their weapons to the trembling American officer?
Some part of me, as German as they, hopes he took them prisoner,
an exciting and honorable moment.

Some other part, knowing his more vital role
imagines that he lifted the bayonets thoughtfully from a table,
from the table full of documents, hard won.

Or perhaps he took them from the fallen in the fields
and a pale young face and darkened hair, lying peaceful in the grasses
reminded him of the sleeping newborn girl he'd left behind.

The bayonets, ready to defend or attack, lie mindless and proud
in the chest.


She is strangely beautiful
this woman in the mirror,
a bit more than sad, just at the eyes
the mouth too easily laughing
as if nervous you won't.
She drifts as you speak to her
catching only half what you say
but most of what you don't.
She will remember your pet's name
but not yours.

She is strange and sometimes beautiful
this girl in woman's muscles
driving the mature bones as if newly licensed.
She is skeptical of her own heart's guidance
but has learned, at least,
to listen to her cat's.

She is strange and sad, beautifully
graceful under pressure
rising to an occasion like a dryad from an oak
performing acts of sacrifice
to appease a host of gods
turning in silent sadness about her solitude
wondering like an old woman
where all her friends have gone.