Butler Pennsylvania 41

After the War, 1945

And the figures on the porches
fathers and sons
who had returned from war
tried to let forgetting happen
as did mothers
who sat in wicker chairs
beside windows
where faded banners hung
studded with golden stars.

They could only sit there, silent
on glider swings or those on chains,
some seeking calm in rocking chairs
their mothers had used
to rock them to sleep in
while around her
men has spoken of
Marne, Argonne or Verdun.

Now, if at all, language came
in broken strands
with long silent gaps between,
while those who heard
would mine for meanings.
But nothing formed.
Only the back and forth of swings
grinding their metallic dirge.

In time one of them would rise,
wander out on warped boards
to stare in battle-fright
at oaks or pines that slowly stirred
until someone assured him
they were but tender timbers
standing guard over his safe plot,
his earth, his haven, his hearth.

But the others?
What assured them, still doubting
of their being safe at home?

Was it the noonday bell
at Franklin and North
or the sun on the backs
of Main Street buildings?
Was it a smooth sidewalk
they walked on
or the pounding at the mill
or the shafts of scrub grass
on the path leading up
to Elephant's Back hill?

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