Musings #65 in Old Red Kimono


At night, hearing her muffled sobs

I’d find mother in the kitchen – the only

light coming from the open refrigerator.

She’d stand, hands in the ice bin,

trying to douse the fire beneath her skin.

Years later, it was her feet that burned,

then turned cold. Finally,

no feeling at all – losing toes

from long-ago leaping off the tower

where she watched the squadron’s return.

His Lancaster, the last to come in,

crippled and upon impact,

bursting into flame.

My poor father, forever competing

with that blazing ghost.

Today she’ll be cremated. Last night

I dreamed her body engulfed in flame,

helpless fear upon her face.

And I was too ambivalent to save her.

But no matter –

her young pilot came striding

through the pyre, swept her up

and carried her away.