Monday, May 30, 2011

58,267 (Poem)

"The Wall"
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Washington, D.C.
Aerial Photograph by U.S. Geological Survey


is a number
having no meaning

unless you were there
or knew someone

who was there
who did not come back

from the longest war.
To get the history

you have to go
back to the beginning,

to 1956, June 8,
before I was four,

and start with the first
name of the first killed

and stretch your eyes
to the east

to 1968, May 25,
before I was 16 and writing

to my drafted brother's buddies,
some in my memory

in that place where the list,
like the Wall, seems to recede

into ground, then to resume
on the same date

in the west,
and go on to the last

name of the last killed
in 1975, May 15,

before I was 23, on holiday.
We've been years tracing names

where beginning meets end
at the vertex,

the war done
 but the loss not complete,

earth still being broken.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas


As of 2010,  when six names were added, 58,267 is the number of names currently on the Wall.

The most complete information about the Wall, which was designed by Maya Lin, is found here. The polished black granite East wall (pointing to the Washington Monument) and West wall (pointing to the Lincoln Memorial) may be searched online to locate a name and its place on the memorial.


Rachael Brooke Winkley said...

Thank you for your poem to those who didn't come home. My father did come back (thankfully, or I wouldn't be posting this comment), but in so many ways he is still there to this day.


Laura said...

When we went to DC a few years back, this was my favorite. Something about that polished stone--the shimmer behind all those names. This is a beautiful tribute, Maureen.

Dawn Potter said...

Brought my sons here last summer when we were in DC. The sight of my son Paul, age 12, rubbing a copy of the name of his great-uncle Paul, killed when I was 4, was very, very difficult to watch.

Joyceann Wycoff said...

Thank you for this tribute to a time in our history that touched, and continues to touch us all. Let us also remember the ones who did come home but carry the wounds and scars, whether physical, emotional, mental or spiritual, of that terrible time.

Susan Rich said...

The most moving memorial I have ever seen/experienced. Thanks for your poem!

S. Etole said...

The names of a couple of friends are there ... one who didn't make it home for the birth of his baby daughter.

Hannah Stephenson said...

Beautiful. I love that you acknowledge important dates and places in your work.

Anonymous said...

i have never seen the wall.
it's hard to imagine that many names.
that many people.

Louise Gallagher said...

It is hard to imagine a wall carrying such sorrow and heartbreak. YOu play beautiful tribute to the people and those times. Thank you.