Archive | poetry

Wife and War: The Memoir

silver dollar


Words After War is pleased to present an excerpt from Wife and War: The Memoir by Amalie Flynn.

December 2006

We rent out our house in Maine. And I rent a condo in New Jersey, so I can be near my parents. And my husband moves us in, before he leaves, leaves for Afghanistan.

And I am upstairs and I come around this corner and I look down and I see him, my husband, standing at the bottom of the stairs, holding him, our sleeping son, ready to transfer him, from the car outside, to his bed upstairs. Our son, a two year old boy, whose only job, now, is to forget his father.

And I will never forget this.

I will never forget how my husband is holding him and cradling him. His hands underneath his tiny back and bent knees. Like an offering, I think, the offering he never wanted to make.

How my husband does not look up, does not see me watching. He just stands there, at the bottom of the stairs, holding him, his son, and sobbing. My husband is sobbing.

And it is in this moment, this moment, when I remember, because I had forgotten.

I had forgotten that he is the one who has to go.

Before he leaves, my husband talks about it. He talks about dying, about where I should live, about who will help me, and how I will get the life insurance money. My husband makes plans for me, postmortem plans.

And I have to accept it.

I have to accept that he may die.

January 2007

We lie in our bed together, lean against our kitchen counter together, and, now, we are standing together, here, in a parking lot, with the military barracks behind it, and a government issued bag at our feet.

Here, at boot camp, where my husband, who is an Officer in the Navy, will train to be an Army soldier, train to kill, train to be ready to go. And, then, he will go, go on a plane, and go to country where news stories are made.

Because there are not enough of them, not enough Army soldiers, he will go. Because there is no draft, he will go.

My husband will serve for the Army, on an Embedded Training Team, embedded in the heart of Afghanistan, working at a college in Kabul, and training Afghan soldiers.

And he says, I won’t be gone forever.

And I say, promise.

I want him to promise, my husband, promise, not because it is possible, to make this kind of promise, but because it isn’t. And because, this is what you do, what you do when your husband goes to war.

This is the moment we have to say goodbye.

Goodbye, goodbye for fifteen months.

And our son is only two years old, sitting in a car seat, in the backseat, in the car. And my husband is leaning over him, leaning in the car door, trying to give him a special coin, a silver dollar. And our son will not take it, putting his little hands, behind his back, no and no.

It is as if he knows, as if he knows what it means.

How I will take it, the silver dollar, take it home, and put it in a box, on a high shelf, in my closet.

Because if my husband dies, his father, if he dies in this war, it will be the last thing he ever gave him.

My husband is gone.

I walk around this condo, up stairs, through rooms, down a hallway. I check the front door and the back door. Turning locks, twisting knobs, saying out loud, to the darkness, and to no one, just to be sure. I watch my son sleep, his small chest rising and then falling, before I fall too, into our bed, but on my side, still.

There is a shirt stretched across his side of the bed, a shirt that my husband left behind, or maybe, just forgot, with a sleeve, one arm, hanging off the bed.

My husband will be gone for fifteen months.

This is the first night.

Guest Post: Brass Bed, poetry from M. Sharon Frickey




A wrong turn into a Broadway antique row back-alley

temptation leans against a shop’s back-door

a sleigh of a bed, blackened from years

in someone else’s shed—fifty bucks make it

mine to lug into dad’s garage

where it waits against the wall.

I slip out of the sofa bed, into your old robe

the girls heads still deep in their pillows

the garage is in February’s deep freeze

I lean against the cold curved foot of the bed

and re-read your latest letter, I pray its not your last,

just days before you leave to come home, so close, so far

away with death still hanging in the air.

I will us into that bed.

I will myself content just to feel your warmth beside me

your thundering snore rippling along my lifeline,

pulling me in.

Tan Son Nhut air base, a targeted airfield in ‘68

as you came incountry, now a chartered plane flight away

from the rest of our life together.

You make a California unwelcome home landing,

and you make it home, to us,

life now crowded, overflowing the in-laws basement apartment,

we re-center our universe.

The bed awakes from dream into metaphor

gives itself up for therapy,

Brasso dug up from the bottom of your duffel

smeared on sheep’s wool pads

it fumes the garage, your old fatigues

until I prop the door open.

The sound of the drill, unsoftened, close, feels good on

your ears, pushes back the whop, whop, whop of

helicopter blades until no more blacked metal remains.

The wartime drama of dark tarnish gives way to shining brass.

Daylight until nightfall, three days from black to bright,

the spinning, spiraling, sweet reflection of

resurrection says, “welcome home.”

M. Sharon Frickey is a willing traveler in the quantum soup, a Virgo Earth-mother poet married to a Taurus Vietnam veteran (32 years active and ready reserve service) aligned to create S.T.O.R.Y. Up, a writing workshop inviting service members, family, vets and community to “come to the table” and drop a stone into the story pot. Sharon’s world experiences give her an eclectic background she shares in writing, poetry readings, and speaking. At duty stations in Japan and Turkey, she was honored with Army and Air Force Community Service awards. Her feature articles have appeared in Colorado County Life magazine. A Christa McAuliffe Fellow and retired teacher, she continues to seek out ways to be part of something in the arts bigger than her own interests.

Write for Words After War! Contact MIKE at WORDSAFTERWAR dot ORG.