Saturday, September 11, 2004

Two Monuments

by Elise Partridge

1. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

White marble. Rolled sod.
Black-shod guard: shining shoes
glide up and down red carpet.
The steed's bronze lip disdainfully curls.
Inside a colonnaded rotunda,
under a Latin diadem,
cases of medals and rosettes.

2. Civil War Battlefield

One-room museum:
a letter from an eighteen-year-old, bragging
we’ll whup ‘em yet!
His dingy, bullet-shredded epaulet.
The wire-rim glasses and dogeared Bible
of the grandmother who refused to leave her house
when the battle started.
(She died at noon under an exploding shell.)
A grasshopper, clinging to a swaying stalk.
A mower roaring over the field.

(from the W.B. Yeats Prize poems, 2001)

It is September 11 - and so we cannot help but remember.
But what really happened? an excuse for war?
sacrifice of the innocents? Now that we have surpassed 1000
dead US soldiers and countless thousands of dead Iraquis,
what has been accomplished? why are people cheering for a
president who prides himself on this horrid accomplishment?
It is September 11 - and we wonder why our world changed.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Bitter Sweet

Once I was young, the children small,
There was not time to finish all
The tasks, it seemed.
These things I dreamed:
A clean, still house, no urgent need,
A little time to rest and read.
Now I am older; day by day
I read the lovely hours away.
The still house gleams.
These are my dreams:
A piping voice to call its need,
A hungry little mouth to feed,
A tear to wipe, a hole to mend,
A boundless energy to lend.
Vain, idle dreams!

I found this poem today on the
website, and I don't know who wrote it - whether
it was Anonymous, or just an omission. I used to
proofread for Mothering, and it comes naturally to
me. ...But I was bowled over by this poem. Who wrote it?
It reminds me of a poem in a children's anthology
I might have read myself as a child, accompanied by
b&w illustrations of Mother with her chicks, and later
by the fireside, knitting...