Nancy Scott

Herman Sharp (1899-1918)

My great uncle was killed at Argonne,

his body buried in foreign soil.

For its first hometown casualty,

Maywood created a park,

inscribed his name in bronze.

Other wars, more dying.

The ground was renamed Veterans Park.

No relative was there to protest

and children who swing on the swings

don’t wonder.

 

Today the only proof I have of his life

is a faded photo postcard.

He’s posing in front of a fake cannon,

the Capitol painted as background.

Crisp uniform, broad smile.

His buddy close at his side.

The message: Dear Mom and Dad.

See the new watch on my wrist.

How many hours, days until

innocence fell to artillery fire?

First published in Out of Line, 2006 and in the author’s book, Midwestern Memories (Aldrich Press, 2013)

 

In Time of War

The Spinet

In the parlor of an Oklahoma farmstead,

a young man wearing blue fatigues

with POW stenciled on the back

explains in accented English, I studied

in Stuttgart. His trained fingers command

the keyboard of the polished spinet, an heirloom

that survived dust storms and droughts

(only the son knows how to play, but he’s

in Europe blowing up Germans with a howitzer).

Brahms’ Sonata No. 1 in C Major invigorates

an otherwise ordinary day spent mucking out stalls,

until from the back porch someone calls

his name, Hans, back to work, schnell.

Fingers halt in mid-allegro.

 

The Rubble Women (Trümmerfrau)

In ghost cities—

Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Dusseldorf—

women, fifteen to fifty, their men dead

or prisoners of war, pressed into service

for years to clear a million acres of rubble,

the legacy of firestorms and bombs.

The women toil brick by brick passed

hand over hand, scraped and cleaned

for use again. Teams of ten or twelve,

with only pickaxes, hand-winches, and

shovels dismantle what they can, push

barrows filled with debris or any useful

thing—piping, steel, wood beams, toilets,

wash basins—across the spectral scene.

At day’s end, a bowl of hot soup,

another heap of salvaged bricks.

First published in Pudding Magazine, 2014

 

Blackout

Name-calling, race-baiting, lying—

so unlike the American experience during

the War years when we pulled together, right?

It still catches in my throat—every child’s fear

of losing someone they loved, knowing

someone who had.

 

On long scary nights when bombs never fell,

we cloaked our windows without question.

I’m not sure how many enemy planes would have

found our street, our house though we lived

only a few miles from a likely target—

Proviso rail yards. But what strategic advantage

of bombing Roanoke, VA or Franconia, NH?

 

I’d often sit on my father’s lap in the blue

wingchair and listen to the crackle of voices

coming from our Philco. Not grasping the news,

I’d try instead to puzzle out how tiny men

could live inside that radio. Sometimes I’d sit

on my father’s lap at the kitchen table where

he and Mother played rummy by flashlight.

 

As a child, I felt lucky because Dad,

with his broken back and flat feet, didn’t go

off to war. I should be there, he’d say,

cross that the Army wouldn’t take him.

But on those nights enveloped by the warmth

of his body, his ample lap, I knew

that whatever happened we would be safe.

First published in Schylkill Valley Journal, 2012 and the author’s book, Midwestern Memories (Aldrich Press, 2013)

________________________________________________________________

Nancy Scott is the managing editor of U.S.1 Worksheets, the journal of the U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative in New Jersey. She is also the author of seven collections of poetry. Her most recent, Running Down Broken Cement (Main Street Rag Publishing Company, August 2014) is a collection of poems inspired by more than two decades as a caseworker for the State of New Jersey assisting homeless families, abused and foster children and those with mental health problems and/or AIDS. She is also an artist. www.nancyscott.net

 

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About Copperfield

Since 2000, The Copperfield Review has been a leading market for short historical fiction. Copperfield was named one of the top sites for new writers by Writer's Digest and it is the winner of the Books and Authors Award for Literary Excellence. We publish short historical fiction as well as history-based nonfiction, poetry, reviews, and interviews.
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