David R. “Poppa” Alexander

A MOTHER AND HER CHILD

As the dust settled over the valley below
A strange silence came and then a hum so low;
The jets had come to do their job and opened the way.
But after looking again, I knew there would be no joy today.

The village was larger than most,
And Charlie was often the guest here invited by the host.
The host was the mayor of this hamlet;
He played both sides of the fence and ran a dangerous gambit.

We were young and not yet hardened to the war,
And the death we were to see that day was more than a horror.
With riles at the ready we moved in carefully
Following the Captain dutifully.

Stopping outside the village to study the terrain,
By now we were wet by the morning rain;
The silence was deafening,
And the stench was stifling.

We moved a mere one hundred yards to a clearing at the edge,
And the sight there, within us drove a wedge,
For the village was almost completely gone
And not a semblance of what had been there at dawn.

At the edge of the village we heard the Captain call,
“All of you rookies meet me here at the wall.”
When we arrived to find what was in store,
The Captain explained he wanted us to see what was behind the door.

A hundred dead bodies mostly burned to a crisp,
Only napalm could do this.
There were animals and humans barely able to recognize,
And there was no way for death to be disguised.

We traveled in pairs to view what had been done,
The sight was horrible and a couple of us did run.
As we moved around the corner of a hut,
An awful sight was there and it tore at our guts.

A mother and her child face down,
The burned side of both their bodies were lying on the ground.
The mother had been carrying the child as they often did;
One leg in front and one behind the mother’s hip, not a word was said.

I’m sure that they never knew what happen to them,
As their bodies were burned in the twilight dim,
Not a day goes by I don’t curse that Captain for being so vile,
Making all the young “rookies” view the bodies of this mother and her child.

I carry that picture in my mind each and every day,
And no amount of soap can wash that sight away.
It was meant to toughen the mind and strengthen the heart,
But it did the opposite as viewing this meant you had taken part.

A tragedy of war most of us would agree,
But the sight of them lying there still nags at me.
Forget it is what most people say,
I don’t know how to do that at the end of each day.