This is a poem about my mother's twin brother Bob Bellreng. The photograph of Bob was taken by my father Ray Wagner.
RELATIVE TO THE SPEED OF THE PAST
My mother’s twin brother was killed
At Normandy Beach while hanging
A telephone line from a pole. Never
Saw it coming. Came back in the
Late summer. The funeral was at home.
He was a handsome man, young and
Beautiful with a kind voice and a bright
Future. There were so many who did
Not come back. Every small town had
Some kind of board listing their dead sons.
Faster than that his nephews and nieces
Were growing old and laughing at how
They looked in the nineteen sixties, how
Long their hair was, how idealistic they were.
Even younger, their children are showing
Off their new babies and are being fussed
Over by relatives. There is still a war. It
Is much more informal these days. No
Boards with names on them in elementary
Schools. Now there are national monuments
With names on them. One must go to Washington
D.C. or the state capitol to see who these people were.
They still gave the same thing as their relatives,
Their lives. It isn’t legal, or barely so, to show
the boxes of the dead coming home.
The speed of the past is wildly furious.
Soon it will be lost again as it always is.
Soon we will stand in the fields of dead
And not one name will carry us away.
We will know nothing once again, implicitly.