The trees, buildings, people, and cannons
Tower over my three feet.
Smell of gunpowder. Sight of lanterns.
People in the street
Fear slices from my throat to my tummy.
Where’s my daddy? Where’s my mummy?
A sea of people taller than me.
Where’s our tent? I can’t see…
There you are!
I hear my mothers voice.
She comforts me under the stars.
We had no choice.
They told me it was fun to camp.
I cuddled up with mom in the tent.
She read me Bible stories under a lamp.
‘Til dad came back from battle – energy spent.
I watched my dad march off the next day.
He left me with a stranger.
He told me to stay.
I felt danger.
Booms and Bangs.
The clashing of war.
Scared to my core.
Smoke all around me.
Searching for my family.
I coughed and I cried,
Having left the strangers side.
My dad was nigh
But I watched him fall
After the exploding of a cannonball.
I bolted back to the silent stranger
But I couldn’t remember his face.
I blacked out and my heart began to race.
That night we sat by the fire and talked about gods grace.
But there was no love in that place.
I can’t remember more,
But still hear and feel the reverberation of war.
(C) 2021 GB Swann
In my culture, it is Memorial Day weekend. It is a holiday to honor American servicemen and women who died in war. I believe that those who left children behind would rather us think about their living children who were affected by militarism through the loss of their caretaker.
May we all have a reflective Memorial Day and consider what actions we can take as individuals to keep the children from the horrors of war. There are sights and sounds that one can’t unhear or unsee. It is hard enough for a willing warrior to live with. How much harder for someone who stands three feet tall?
I wrote this poem based off of an experience I had as a child. My dad was an American Civil War Reenactor and there was a time during a battle reenactment when I didn’t know where my family was and was scared. The poem was my experience, but I sat down to write it with the specific intent of empathizing with war children and refugees. My mom used to try to prepare me for the battles. She would tell me not to be scared because it was all just play and not to worry if my dad died on the battlefield. I can only imagine what it must have been like for an actual child during that war. What would it be like to have this same experience in France or Finland during WWII? What was it like to be a German child during WWII? What is it like to be a Syrian child who left home because of war? I’m glad that I can only imagine.
Occasionally, I may change the photo to honor a different group of children. Thanks for reading.