Silver Birch Press——The Subway at the Lake by Anne Born (Me, as a Child Poetry Series)

Ginaforchildhood2
We Are at War
by Gina Larkin

My brother set up his soldiers
in neat lines and rows
at the end of the long hall.
We are at war,

my mother says.
All my uncles are far away
and my aunts
wait each morning for the mail
and whisper to each other
so I can’t hear.
But I see the little flags
in the windows,
and the gold stars when
someone has died,
Mrs. Nunn has three stars
in her window.
There is one in Nana’s
for cousin Peter.
We are at war.

With so few cars now,
I can go alone
to Bill’s meat market.
Today’s ration stamps are for margarine.

Bill hands me the slippery plastic bag,
breaking the orange tablet in the center.
“Here,
squeeze the bag til you get home.”
My part in the war effort.
I push the orange color from center to edges,
turning the soft grey jaundiced;
only good for spreading,
it doesn’t melt
separates into water and yellow glue.
Now, I mix the color in
til my hands hurt.
We are at war.
Each night, the air raids screech life
to a dark halt,
blackout shades in place,
street lights extinguished.
There is silence except for
the ground shifting hum of the mills.
The mills never close,
their always blasting furnaces
turn out steel
for the war.
The sky’s constant red slag glow
mocks the air raid black.
If a plane flies over head
the rosary beads fly
through my mother’s fingers
praying it away;
we live a half mile from the mill
and we are at war.

My brother sets up his soldiers
in neat lines and rows
at the end of the long hall,
then lobs a ball at them.
Some fall and never get up again.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: This photo was taken when I was three on the Greenfield Bridge (about 10 miles from Pittsburgh). This was before WWII began.

Ginaforchildhood1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gina Larkin has had poems published in more than 50 journals including Paterson Literary Review, Exit 13, Lips, and US 1 Review. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is the founding and current Editor of The Edison Literary Review.

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Silver Birch Press——The Subway at the Lake by Anne Born (Me, as a Child Poetry Series)
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