The Volunteers

 

On board the Cassin D. Young this afternoon

an elderly gentleman with bright clear eyes and brown corduroys,

his flannel shirt tucked in, warm in the March sun

and the breeze off Boston harbor, gestured

with his hands to show the angle the Japanese pilot took

before disintegrating against the bridge.

 

He glances across the Navy yard

as one hand sweeps cutting the skyline just off the street

on a flat trajectory

across the slim waist

of the swerving ship.

 

Traces remain but not the men sunburned on gray,

the running and the powderstung sweating in the

drumlike turrets.

The pistons are dry.

Old radios smell of cloth wire and warm bakelite

faintly, the galley scoured stainless steel, the

laundry ghosts,

the CIC plots bearings of empty space.

 

He smiles gently, he comes from somewhere

quiet, some tidy house by the Navy Yard,

putting on the pin that says Rememberer.

It matches mine that says Witness.

 

Both of us are casualties of this peace.

The warship rocks tenderly, in Atlantic silence.

I look up the slope of her rising sheer, and wait,

the sun is warm on the light grey paint.

The plane, jumping and smoking, under heavy fire,

turns onto its mad course.

 

**

Andrew Rotch is a 33-year old printer and a caretaker

living in the Boston area. Largely unpublished, he

believes the best is yet to come.

 

 

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