John-Ward Leighton


Progress is an angel
trying to solve the problems
of the past.
Of course to believe that angle
you have to believe in an angel.
I don’t know what I believe
I have no special theory up my sleeve
at least none that I can retrieve
when the peddle
hits the metal.
We would like to believe
that we know what’s right
and know the difference
between dark and light.
As you have seen from the night before
for me it was almost over before it began
and I wouldn’t have been here
except for the heroism
of a young man named Duncan Duncan.
The young man who had done everything right
then off to war to join the fight:
All the qualities of manhood,
all that was sacred, fine and good.
I’m sure he had his flaws
but none this six year old boy
could see.
He was a surrogate older brother
to my brother and me
and we absolutely adored him.
After the terrible news
from D Day+2
my Uncle George and Aunt Mamie
consoled me after my Mom left
because I was totally shattered and bereft.
One of my small tasks
was to bring the mail up from
the mailbox on the road.
The Brocks had two sons off to war
and scanned the road
with apprehension
for telegraph trucks
or strange official vehicles.
They lived for the mail
and the tension would rise with
each day of no Forces letters.
Then they would come in one big batch
and be read and re-read
by the light of lamps.
One boy was in Italy
the other in Normandy
and George and Mamie
would read aloud
so this young eight year old child
felt he knew two men he had never met.
Most of the young men from that time
are old or have passed
and there is grey on this boy’s head.
But, in my heart of hearts
my heroes still step lightly
even when they are numbered with the dead
their laughs and shouts
still echo in my head
and rhymes
when I am
walking in other times.

Author’s Note; Uncle George and Aunty Mame were not blood relatives but in those days of families taking in a small boy, I was encouraged to view them as family. They were very good to me letting me have my own pony to ride to school every morning. The farm was two miles away from the school and about a mile and a half from the next farm.

I loved those people and I’m sure they loved me. They never whacked me or abused me in any way and a stern look or vocal admonishment was enough to quiet a rambunctious eight year old. I wonder whatever happened to the Brocks.

This poem prompted the response, “First Memories of Childhood” ©Copyright January 26, 2006 by Billy Willbond