Tuesday, May 26, 2015


For Memorial Day:

                      Casualty Call

The doorbell rang while she was baking bread.
She glimpsed them through the window by her door,
And slid down weeping to the foyer floor;
Until she let them in he was not dead.
Her husband came to answer it instead.
"Are you okay?" He knew. He'd been to war.
"Mother, are you okay?" he asked once more.
"I'll never be okay again," she said.

Their son was buried two weeks to the day.
The rifles fired, a bugle sounded taps.
She was clear-eyed, her husband wept. Perhaps
He knew the price that they had yet to pay.
They grieved their son for years, then cancer came,
And as he died, he called the dead boy's name.

                                               - Robert A. Hall

There is a sweet sorrow to this kind of poetry.  If it moves you to tears, they’re  not the shameful or unhappy kind.  In fact, I think they’re a good kind and should happen to us all from time to time..

I’ve been going through the photographs Becky took on our trip to London.  It turns out I’m not a real photographer; that is, when I see something interesting, I more often than not fail to take a picture of it.  For example, I noted that those British soldiers in their red coats and enormous bearskin hats carry very modern weapons, but did I take his picture?  No, but Becky did..  She took lots of pictures, many of them with talent.  This man at the top of the page was photographed at the Tower of London, guarding the entrance to the building that housed the Crown Jewels.  (You are not, by the way, permitted to take pictures of the wonderful things inside.)

And here’s a really excellent photograph Becky took of the Beefeater at the Tower of London.

Intelligent and witty, he told some interesting stories about the various buildings in the Tower.  He also recited a rather silly rhyme that is an old British schoolboy mnemonic for the Kings and Queens of England from William the Conqueror to Victoria – and it’s one I memorized myself long years ago that helped me learn English history:
Willie, Willie, Harry, Stee,
Harry, Dick, John, Harry Three,
One, two three Neds, Richard Two,
Harries Four, Five, Six, then who?
Edwards four, five, Dick the Bad,
Harries twain, Ned the Lad,
Mary, Bessie, James the Vain,
Charlie, Charlie, James again,
Bill and Mary, Anna Gloria,
Four Georges, William, then Victoria.

Thank you very much, I’m here all week.  Try the veal


Linda O. Johnston said...

That first poem is so sad... And I, of course, like the reference to the second Charlie in your rhyme about the kings and queens of England!

Monica Ferris said...

So it was the second King Charles that the dogs are named after - I didn't know that. That rhyme isn't hard to learn but it will really impress your friends if you can recite it at parties or over lunch. Especially if, like you, you can also tell some tidbit about one or more of the kings and queens listed.

Betty Hechtman said...

I do the same thing you do and forget to take pictures. For me it is either pay attention to what's going on or think about taking pictures.