This past spring the “Healing Wall” came to Bemidji, Minnesota. While it was here some friends and I went to see it, then went to breakfast. Mike said he wished it hadn’t come—it opened old wounds. Jim and Lyle agreed and we talked about who it was healing. I was surprised at their sentiments—I felt the same way but didn’t want to admit it, like a betrayal to those on the Wall. Anyway, I went home and wrote this poem.
After the Funeral
It’s called “The Wall That Heals.” But Robert Frost’s words gnaw:
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” Taps and 21 Gun Salutes
echo through wind-blown purple petals from wilted bouquets.
At the service I listen to elegies, worn clichés, old war stories
and know nothing has been learned except we jump higher at the rifle fire.
To the uninitiated, tanks and APC’s are symbols of omnipotence;
today as offered penitence, I’d rather see white doves set free.
Sharing a friend’s anguish, I wonder again how Walls heal as
we turn our backs to black granite. My arm shelters quaking shoulders
as he whispers a prayerful curse — his loss fresh again—
all that’s missing is a hearse. Recalling my nocturnal visit…
I came in dark of night, roles reversed. Stars whispered through powdery mist
and again I saw six river sailors disappear in dawn’s water-sprinkled burst—
others; sniped, accidents, ambushed—fingers gently brushed etched names;
not unlike baby granddaughter’s tears when big sissy’s crushed her heart.
This morning I go home, change clothes, pet the dog,
wander my meadow aimlessly, clean bluebird houses (spring is here),
and remember scattered purple petals blown into the Wall.