Author's note: The random spacing is a formatting problem, not a poetic effect. It is intended to be four stanzas.
Your stone seems small among all the others.
"A bud on earth to bloom in heaven"
is the only comfort it offers
to the visitor in this lonely place.
Fifty six years is the half century
that seems like a millennium,
a time before my time, known only through
the unreliable memories of others.
A war that couldn't be called a war
called the younger brothers
of the Second World War to fight,
maybe to die, in a cold place,
and nobody knew why.
Young couples hoped for
their million dollar baby,
draft deferment, fatherhood exemption,
a house, and a life, uninterrupted.
Two lovers married early
and the love they made was you,
a swelling bud that withered,
never bursting open in the sun,
love transmuted to grief.
A tiny heart beating strong for a night,
faded like a distant light near to dawn.
Could any heart bear
an unbeating heart so close for
two days and not hurt so deep,
its pulse would be as still as yours?
They wrapped you in your only blanket,
kissed their million dollar baby goodbye
and laid you softly in your tiny coffin.
Do you know what they bought
with your million dollars?
The letter came, the army called,
a year in the Philippines, not Korea,
college and a GI bill PhD,
four more children and a happy life
with one early dark spot that never healed.
Everything that would have been
is someplace on another road,
back before the turn where they left you,
my unintended sacrifice,
who left me a mother who held me like gold,
delighted in my every scream,
just to know I was alive.
The needle's point fulcrum of my life
is before I was born.
My life, my loves, my children,
every good thing I know and have
is because you had none.
The young couple is with you, now.
Perhaps they have seen you bloom.
I hope they thank you for me.
I appreciate all of it.