Cemetery, June 1994
St. James, Brittany, France
~Anne Harding Woodworth

The first two graves anticipate us,
You and me, the linesmen, you might say
Because you love the game so much.
Then five, plus three defenders, markers, white on green,
make up now the team before the whistle blows.
Nothing moves, except the leaves beneath the heat of June.
The crowd of thousands breathless wait, the game will soon be on,
standing straight and marble-tall, menhirs all,
for fifty years, here on St. James pitch,
traded then from frightened towns and Omaha, the beach.
I am their mother and their daughter,
born but three weeks after, years before, they died,
these rugged bombardiers
and infantry who knew they'd beat the odds.
	If there's to be a sole survivor, he will be that soul;
	so knows the teenage mind at Omaha.
We are here, you and I.  The ref will be here soon.
White on black or black on white, this misty day in June.
Father, son, those little boys whose shoes I tied,
whose hair I combed and necks I nuzzled in.
My boy, my father, I meant to say goodbye.
"Bonjour" in this French town of, of all names, St. James.
And when I meet the sister of him who died in Brest
And learn their mother never found her former rest,
I know I've come to say goodbye.  You soothe my back.
The ref arrives, pulls on his shirt,
black on white, and white on black.
The ball rolls through their lines and ranks.
One on one, or, "man on," as it's said, point blank.
And then there were the boys in tanks;
your father taught them how and why,
tank-commanding father-coach, dead of Alzheimers last July.
© 1998 Anne Harding Woodworth, all rights reserved.  
Contact publisher for re-print possibility

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