We sit together
Towards the End,
You and I,
Father and Son,
Warrior and Historian,
You who shaped History
And I who preserve it
And you summon up the Ghosts
Of that War long past,
Always beginning with the same words, "So many men, I killed so many men,
Some with my knife, some with my hands.
I was a scout, you know, in the Islands of the Pacific."
Through your words I feel
The razor edge of the kunai grass
And its heat,
Coiled up inside,
Strikes my face,
As when I was a boy and stood beside you,
In the Dead
Holding the coal bucket while you stoked the furnace's blast.
And with you I crawl stealthily
Through that grass
And my hand, with yours,
By the Black
Into the flyblown chest of that enemy soldier,
Those three days, wasting in the grass, not to rise
And, though inhumed sixty winters,
The reek of that Death,
Still and Now,
Hovers round us.
But you grow tired and tell me you must rest. "My son comes today to see me. Do you know him?" "We were inseparable as boys," I say, "Always playing games of war in your backyard.
We'd put on your old helmet and encircle
With ammo belts and holsters,
And you taught us songs of the Islands." "Yes, I remember you now.
You two were so much alike. Stay till he comes."
And I say, "I'll stay
Till He comes."
One more song
Of the Islands,
Towards the End.
by David J. Ladouceur
... who is a teacher and historian, and has previously published
creative writing in this magazine, as well as non-fiction in
professional journals. He is currently working on a novel,
After the War, set in the early 1950's which deals with a
veteran who returns from the conflict and shares not only his
stories but his ghosts with his son. Born into a military family,
Dr Ladouceur is the son of a jungle scout who served in the
Pacific Theater from Pearl Harbor through the end of World War