Friday, May 6, 2011


by Jaye Shore Freyer

Adults spoke an audible braille
I could mimic but just half comprehend ~
must have been that my mind was as green
as the fields of those afternoons ~
as untethered and untamed as a wren

Take Casualty Calls ~ a term 
common as weeds in my seventh year;
the soft southern arc in my inner ear 
knew call, that lazily stretched
its neighborly vowel, 
making a visit genteel;  
and casual's sensual sound 
rubbed its back like a cat 
slipping along the back of my throat,
carefully side-stepping my tongue.
Did I ask?  If I did, 
it was probably defined 
as 'work to be done'.  

Da Nang, Kwang Tri, Dong Ha 
the same ~ can still feel how they felt ~
rolling around in my mouth ~ 
colored balloons of sound
held by the slender twine of a pause ~
over and over again - hop scotch
jumping rope with friends,
pumping the swing 
till it tugged at it's reins

And then, what ended on the airport tarmac
was a beginning of a long silence,
not just for me but all of us.

Collage of my Dad, 1967
When I think about our current wars I think about my own family - the years when I was young and having a father see action seemed fun, exotic, important ~ a grade school child's view of the world.  It all changed when my father came back from Viet Nam and the fun fell out of it. I realized how badly I'd bungled understanding what was going on.  In the days before Google children were left to figure what grown-ups were talking about and my parents seemed to make a conscious effort to leave us to our childhood as much as they could. 

The events this week, with the capture/killing of Osama bin Ladin, triggered a recurring thought that my son and his friends were the age I was here when the towers went down, and I have wondered what they make of what they have (haven't ) understood about the events that course through their lives.  They seem so much savvier than I ever was but I'm curious to see how they capture their point of view for us  ~  I'm looking forward to hearing their voices ~ and know it may take years for this to happen as it has here for me. 


Anonymous said...

Well said Jaye.

Gayanashagowa said...

As a seven- or eight-year-old, to some extent, it doesn’t really matter how much technology there is, I think, since a third-grader hasn’t quite “gotten” what is at his fingertips with regard to the Internet. At the time, I only knew what I heard from my parents and what my friends heard from their parents. Only since, though, as I’ve matured, have I pieced together something closer to a complete story. I guess that, in that sense, not too much has changed.

Margaret said...

Third grade while Daddy was overseas. Watching the news reports and not understanding what the words and pictures meant - refugees, offensives, casualties. I asked some questions, but there were always more that stayed in my head. Fourth grade, moving to a new place, a strange place, and not understanding the fundamental changes there were taking place in the lives and hearts of our family.

I have tried to give my children information and explanations that they can understand. I have tried to shield them from the incessant news that just fills the air with noise and words that don't foster understanding.

jf said...

wow, jaye.

Amy Lynn said...

This is fantastic.

I was 9 when the Soviet Union fell, and that was pretty hard to comprehend.

Laura said...

Love what you've started with this. Will be interesting to see how it evolves. Particularly like the question of language vs. knowledge....