In Memory of the Gold Star Mothers

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I worried
when the Black River was so low some years,
poking along underneath
the Main Street bridge
in front of our home
on Memorial Day.

The Gold Star Mothers
had just arrived
in one of Ludlow’s only convertibles:
they struggled out of the car
wrapped around in American flags,
looking enormous
waddling up to the edge
of the bridge’s railing,
waiting for the trumpet
to start
sounding the Taps
across the river
near the Hope’s house.

I worried
Because
the memorial wreathe
could get hung up,
Snagged
by the messed-up debris
under the edge
of the bridge’s middle concrete abutment.
As the trumpet started
playing Taps,
I noticed
the wreathe
still balanced
on the cement railing,
waiting its turn
to be pushed
into the sluggish Black River
on its way to the
Connecticut River
and Long Island Sound
and the Atlantic ocean.

The Gold Star Mothers
filled up
the middle of the bridge
next to the High School Band,
bulked up
by their American Flag costumes
Cocooned
in the Stars and Stripes. 

I listened
to the echoing Taps from Earl,
Who stood
in the middle of the Band
on the bridge,
remembering how my
Grandmother
had weeded
and planted
in her rock garden the day before,
next to our side of the bridge,
and how
her oldest son,
Sherburn Clyde Searl, Jr.
had been severely wounded
by mistaken German shrapnel
during the Second War
and had lost a leg.

The Gold Star Mothers
had lost
their sons
killed in action
And now
the mothers showed up
Decorated
in their mourning flags,
Standing
in the middle of the bridge
over the Black River
sending their multi-colored
elaborately decorated wreathe
into the trickle of water
beneath them
Remembering,
praying for their boys.