Thursday, April 25, 2013

COMPASSIONATE (For Steve Biddulph - and My Father) I I see the old man sitting there. We must come together over this. What is he thinking about? He is thinking about the war Over and over And the war has been over Fifty three years. Fifty three years. How long has he been sitting there like this? Fifty three years. How long has he been asleep? Fifty three years. His life has come and gone While he has been asleep thinking about the war Fifty three years. His child has been and gone and come again Many many times But he has never really seen his child. His child is writing this Forty six years. His wife Where has she been? Sixty years. I have seen the photos of them Beautiful young people Younger than us Their young faces shining out of the black And white photos. Fifty three years. Shining hope. Strong faces. Eaten by the war. Fifty three years. I see the photo of him with the baby Taken at the Townsville show. Forty five years. Where has he been? Fifty three years. He’s been in the tunnel, He’s been in the operations room, He’s been in the plane. He’s lived in seventeen cities And not seen them. He has a grand daughter Unseen. II My father who saw that plane descend in flames outside of Ceduna who Dragged those burnt and burning bodies out without thinking about it And now does nothing but think about it. Those young dead boys from The green fields of Iowa with nobody they knew or loved around them Dying here thousands of miles from home and nobody but my father Did anything about it and now nobody remembers the graves Overgrown in the hot Australian summer but he remembers he drives Three thousand miles at the age of eighty-four and he cries as he cleans The graves. Somewhere back in Iowa an old woman looks up from the TV or a sink with the bright day glaring at her out there under the Iowa Sky and remembers a face. Nobody but my father held the weight of those light spirits Who flew back to their home in Iowa over the dark and rippling water I have flown dark of night 37,000 feet high above dark water immensity Down below; the travelers coming Home from LA, from Disneyland, From whatever it was they were doing With their lives but my father forgot to do. He sits there now But he was taken from us as that plane climbed into the sky and then Seemed for a moment to hang still and defying the laws of gravity And dropped like a stone trying to be a bird for that brief moment So full of life and the desire to live but dropping out of the sky onto the Dry Ceduna airstrip. That dry grass the spinifex rolling out to get burnt Up by the eating fire that was so eagerly fed that plane had been so full Of fuel. What were they thinking those young Iowa boys as their lives All ended together there in South Australia I don’t know but I know at Least one of them was thinking no, I don’t want to go, not yet, I still Have to kiss Bess she is waiting back on the porch in Iowa or back in The back seat of my fathers Ford and I won’t let go and he took over My fathers life and he has been trying to get back to Iowa ever since And my father shows us the photos of the graves and of the lonely little Funeral and tells us of how the Americans didn't want to know the Americans who are always so proud of their boys doing their bit way Over there of how my father carried them into the old aircraft hanger in Ceduna their bodies black and twisted grotesque little statues of what it Was like in hell for those few seconds that became forever for those Boys and for my father who doesn't see me crying who I never saw cry All my life who has made this his life which no-one knew about my Father did not tell them what he had been thinking about all these years Fifty three years. My father. ~ Lyndon Walker