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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

MEMORIAL DAY AT ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

by Joan Mazza

Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery
by John Moore (Getty Images) on May 27, 2010

A young woman is talking. An explanation?
Apology? She waves her arms and pauses to sob
and find her words. Wadded tissues, a vase of flowers,
American flag, folded note, denim jacket.

The photographer asked permission
to include her photo among those he took
of Iraq veterans visiting buddies’ graves, children
who came to see where their fathers slept.

A woman I knew had lost her fiancé in Vietnam.
Thirty years later, she still wore his ring, carried
his name though they had not married, stayed
faithful to their promise. Never loved another man.

The photographer at Arlington returned to find
Mary prostrate, brow touching his headstone,
as if whispering something her love could hear.
Still crying, shoulder blades prominent

in her sundress like budding wings preparing
to transport her to another plane where Jimmy
would tell her not how to fly, but how
to stand up and take off her ring.


Joan Mazza has worked as a psychotherapist, writing coach, certified sex therapist, and medical microbiologist, has appeared on radio and TV as a dream specialist. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Perigee/Putnam). Her work has appeared in Kestrel, Stone’s Throw, Rattle, Writer's Digest, Playgirl, and Writer's Journal. She now writes poetry and does fabric art in rural central Virginia.
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