The sound of the trombones fade into the distance,
drifting off through the May trees down
in Wilson Park, sliding and diving into the Chippewa
as the Gold Star mothers, all in white, fling
their wreaths out into the air for their sailor
sons buried at sea. The drums start up again
as the mothers, tears running down their cheeks,
return to their car, and the parade goes forward,
down to the park, up to the band shell, where
there will be speeches from electioneering
candidates for office, while the half tracks,
current soldiers driving them, take
them back to their trailers on the side street.
Decades ago my children wearing a sailor’s
uniform and an army uniform were invited
to ride on top, a memorable day for them.
Today’s children slip away, climb the bars
on the brightly painted playground equipment
nearby wearing red, white, and blue,
until the trumpeter plays taps, those perfect
mourning notes coming to the end
in the perfect silence of our thoughts
of wars we remember. Not many of us
left who remember WWII; very few
left who were in it, and they are disappearing
into words, memory, song even as
we stand up to leave, while the children’s
voices again pipe and screech over band
and crowd, impervious yet to our mourning.
Peg Carlson Lauber, a longtime Eau Claire resident, has published poetry since 1963 and taught in colleges for 40 years. Her latest books are New Orleans Suite and The Whooping Crane Chronicles.