Pris Campbell

USS Genesee: Leaving Pearl 1968
USS Genesee: Leaving Pearl Harbour ~ 1968

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: September 12, 2001
Awarded: September 12, 2001

Nineteen sixty-eight.
Crepe paper flowers surround us,
Navy wives chattering with excitement.
The ship, due any day!
Our job?
The biggest lei Hawaii has seen,
for tug to hoist high to bow
when ship returns to port.

I slip one pale flower onto the link, think,
‘just now – this very second – one more has died’.

Finally, the ship steams into Pearl,
clad in our colorful lei.
Sailors in white scattered formations
salute from tiered decks,
navy band blaring ‘stars and stripes’.
Will my heart burst apart
as I watch from the dock?

Our men are back!
Oh, they are back.
Safe from the relentless seas
Safe from the killing fields at last.