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This  is a ballad because, in a sense, it tells a story. I could not call it rhymed or free verse because it has some of both. This is personal and somewhat autobiographical.

LETTER TO A SOLDIER A Trilogy I. SONGS OF LOVE Love walked with me In the crisp fall air In a shower of gold and red. Love showed me the print Of a doe’s foot And where she made her bed. Love sat by me And warmed my heart Under winter’s starry sky. Love fitted my soul With gossamer wings And taught me how to fly. Love rode with me Through soft gray mist, Through feathery palest green. Love opened my heart And looked within Where no one had ever seen. Love walked with me And held my hand On a breathless summer hill. Love lay with me In the soft green grass, And time and the wind stood still. The sun was hot And the green grass sweet, And the leaves whispered quiet above. With cherishing words And gentle hands You taught me the songs of love II. WHY? Sometimes, at unexpected times, The bittersweet memories flood back. Those magic years when the Days and nights were endless And seemed to run seamlessly, One into the other. When life itself was today, Only the present, Never the past or future. Only the moments we seized. We drank them in greedily, With abandon, spilling carelessly As if we would always have enough! Away from studies, we roamed The hills and woods of West Point. We climbed the redoubts and The lichen-covered rocks under Trees of another century That leafed out to cover us, Keeping close our secrets. There was that small glade Where we glimpsed a deer with fawns And found Jack in the Pulpits Blooming in a sea of ferns. We made love on the bed Of soft green moss by a little waterfall. So little did we think then of the World outside our love – the world Where, in a far-off Asian country A war would crush our dreams. But, inexorably, the day came When we both were graduated, I from college, you from West Point. And, after the celebrations Were over, you had to go away (We did not know it was forever) To serve your nation -- Until the day you gave your life, At barely twenty-two, in the Desolate foothills of South Korea! III. LAST LETTER You had to go and leave me. I wasn’t ready For the emptiness, The open sky and vacant roads And fields and fields and fields! In the pathways of my mind I see you waiting still, With that crooked smile And waiting, open arms. Can you see the past? Can you feel a sense of loss? Can you remember the Blackberry kisses, Juice running down our chins, While we crumpled up With laughter in the sun-sweet grass? That pale, featureless room with The ugly flowered bedspread Where we made love, Cocooned in blankets, and Fought away the dawn? The frigid Catskills lake, Buildings boarded for the winter, Where we laughed and Swam and ran out blue and shivering To the old, green van, where, Wrapped in clothes and quilt, We warmed ourselves with coffee From a thermos and Ate ham sandwiches? Now you are forever gone, I feel my grief in silence – No public rituals for me. And so I add this last letter To the small packet in My hand and light the match. The wind fans the flickering flame, And my eyes tear up and sting As smoke and flames and ashes swirl Upward, then vanish in the wind. CODA Now I rage against the pain Of all those who since have lost Fathers, sons, brothers, sisters, lovers, Against lives squandered, dreams shattered In frozen mountains of Afghanistan, In muddy swamps of Vietnam, In burning deserts of Iraq. I wail in the darkness – “Listen! Listen! Surely God by any name Never created humankind to hate, To kill, and do it in His name!” But why does no-one hear?

Copyright © | Year Posted 2021

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Date: 8/20/2021 10:40:00 AM
I read your beautiful trilogy again today. It's a poem that will age well because of its many truths. We're seeing now what war has wrought in Afghanistan. My great aunt lost her beloved in WW1. I wrote the poem, "Satin and Old Lace," about her. Your poem should be published for all to see. Stay well...Ann
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Barbara Peckham
Date: 8/20/2021 10:57:00 AM
Thank you again, Ann. I will look for your poem.
Date: 8/14/2021 7:51:00 AM
Oh, Barbara, what a beautiful ode to past love and the stupidity of humans. I cried along with your words. And still we don't learn. I'm faving your poem and will check your poems often. Take good care. Ann
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Barbara Peckham
Date: 8/14/2021 8:00:00 AM
You are very kind. I am pleased that the poem resonated with you and that you liked it. Thank you so much for reading my work and taking the time to comment.
Date: 7/16/2021 4:03:00 PM
A very powerful, meaningful, beautiful poem. Bravo!!...ab
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Barbara Peckham
Date: 7/16/2021 7:22:00 PM
Thank you very much. As I said, it's personal, but I also do think it is meaningful on another level.