Private Nelson tonight learns about privates
As the sea breeze lulls him in the arms of a lass
He never knew before -- but will, shortly,
And of a sadder tomorrow he will not forget.
Seaman Jacobs, just come from boot camp
And glad heís a grad, stands a dull training watch
Overlooking the bay as soft waters lap the piers
Down on Battleship Row: on ARIZONA.
Airman First Koval, come from coal country
To Paradise, sits in the Orderly Room, shamed
By MPs who, doing their duty, brought him here:
Tomorrow he must stand tall.
Three hundred sea miles distant, men concentrate
On what will come; they pray to ancestors, or work
Simple arithmetic: Distance is Rate Times Time,
And then they do it again, waiting...
Mechanics make rounds of their sunspot eagles,
Checking this and that, caressing the motors,
Filling fuel tanks and thinking of sunup
When the flock will depart, bomb-loaded.
And somewhere over Oahu an albatross seeks sky
That will not be emptied of blood and bone
For years to come. It finds its thermal wind and glides,
As Sunday rises to a full red sun.
Sixty years hence, none remain but Koval:
He, a minerís father in Shanksville, PA,
Where the sky fell lately, and then also a mine,
Art Koval remembers most a day long ago.
By Steven C. Myers, used by permission
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