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Happy Father’s Day “Chief”
Lt. Bernie Ostrow, U.S. Army (1944)
The seeds of my own bitterness
were planted one summer night in 1943
in Seattle or somewhere in Texas.
The world was at war; my father on leave
and my mother not wanting to be alone,
but not imagining the company of a child
with its heavy presence of need.
My father went west to Australia
my mother went east to Brooklyn,
each to meet a private challenge,
both to find bitter disappointment.
My father! Set free in the world:
a Jewish boy from the ghetto,
an officer in ninety days,
sailing the far oceans.
“I wanted to stay in Australia”
he once told me.
“But you were born
and I came home.”
I’ve even seen the Red Cross
telegram announcing my birth:
the call to obedience
and the end of dreams.
Years later, imagining that it
was this return from freedom
that set him on the path of
bitterness and melancholy,
I asked his sister what she thought
had made him so unhappy.
And she said it was the army
that made him bitter.
But I know better now.
Back in Brooklyn,
it was the lingering taste
of a different life
on his tongue.
- a found poem from Enders Island: “on the water”
- What is and what was…
- Darkness always gives way to light…