Star-Spangled by Julene Tripp Weaver

Star-Spangled

Sugar sweet words we sang
memories from childhood—allegiance
to the flag—the spirit of our nation.

July 4th fireworks, and the rocket’s red
glare over small country towns,
everyone drove miles to celebrate—
our family, to Narrowsburg
on the Pennsylvania border
O’er the ramparts we watch’d

A nuclear family—father home
from the war he never talks about,
happy to provide a house, to work
a decent job, a wife, dinner on the table—
daily we checked on grandma
O’er the land of the free.

Living upstate, fields and farms
the American 1950s dream—till after
the birth of his second baby girl—
the blight came, he lost weight, spent
days at the VA under observation,
the bombs bursting in air,

a carousel of hospitals.
No one spoke to little girls
about illness, no one said—
non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma—
she found it on his death certificate
years later, still searching.

What so proudly we hail’d
memories from childhood
sad spirit of a nation.

She remembers their final visit,
her father wasted and grey, energy
drained—he sat up a few minutes
with his first born, star of his life,
the bombs bursting in her chest,
imminent death a dagger.

What so proudly we hail’d—
his purple heart. Our beloved
exits at the twilight’s last gleaming,
on this land he fought to protect,
to grow roots deep in its ground,
the home of the brave.

by Julene Tripp Weaver

Twitter: @trippweavepoet
Instagram: @julenet.weaver

Editor’s Note: Sometimes, as in this poem, nostalgia and painful memories weave together so tightly it’s impossible to tease them apart.