Perhaps it should.
Still, it's Memorial Day, and I wrote the first of the two poems below after a walk at the beach on Memorial Day, 2007. I was there to visit Arlington West-- which, as the poem says, was set up in the sand north of the Santa Monica Pier. My intention was to take some time to honor the men and women who have served and continue to serve in our armed forces. It turned into a metaphor-laden morning, and I left feeling-- even more strongly than I had before-- that we, as a country, were failing our soldiers and ourselves.
The second poem was written two years later.
I didn't write a poem this year... but my mint still creeps.
A Walk at the Beach
Memorial Day, 2007
I went for a walk at the beach.
The morning paper said it would be relaxing
And reduce my level of stress.
The crosses of Arlington West spread
In the sand north of the Pier,
Smaller than expected. Less vast.
Three girls from Venice High School
Approached—shorts short, bellies glowing—
To ask how I felt about the war.
Immoral, I said.
Lay pale and mottled,
Black fur stretched
Past breaking and curled back
Vast, empty eyes
Round and hollow
Cleaner than me,
Cleaner than the three girls and the pudgy children
Making moats against rising tides.
On the walk back south,
A red balloon danced, wilted,
In wilting waves.
I pick it up.
I carry it.
Driving east on the 10, I try not to lose them:
The crosses, the three girls, the seal,
The little boy, maybe four years old, alone in the water,
Having the time of his life,
No grown up nearby,
No one responsible,
Not knowing how quickly things can happen,
Or how little time there is, once they do,
To be saved.
An Herb Garden
Memorial Day, 2009
Today I planted an herb garden.
Drove fingers into dirt
Made way for sweet basil and dill,
Oregano, flat-leafed parsley,
The mint I gave a pot
All its own
Because, like hope, it creeps.