Sergeant Eleanor: A Writer Wednesday Post

November 12th, 2014 | Posted by Irene in Poetry | Publication News

Uncle Johnny's FlagUncle Johnny’s Flag, photo & all text ⓒ Irene O’Garden, 2014 

I remember so many people with special love on Veteran’s Day: my father Don, my father-in-law Len, my brother Dan, Uncle Johnny and the countless others who offered the gift of their service. Today I want to introduce you to Eleanor, mother of Scott (my most long-playing friend) and his beloved sister Andee. Over the years, I was privileged to spend time with the remarkable Eleanor, enjoying her joyful fashion sense, eating her beautifully prepared food and witnessing firsthand her powerful love. Her stunning military funeral inspired the following poem.

(It is cast in a form I created a few years back: the “fulcrum poem,” in which meaning twists on repeated phrases. Since the ear loves repetition but the eye does not, I have placed the fulcrums in superscript. These words should be read twice.  If you like puzzles, read the poem. If you’d rather listen, please click here: Sergeant Eleanor

 

 

SERGEANT ELEANOR IS LAID TO REST

In Which a Bird Appears.

 

Sergeant Eleanor is laid to rest

in fields of blooming yellow mustard eggs

in silver buckets later at the salad bar thoughts

of army women in the service Sergeant

Eleanor was happy. Fought for freedom

and was happy giving and receiving orders

of nuns almost army women in the forties served

a god-shaped army in peacetime

couldn’t use this soldier on did

 

Sergeant Eleanor: husband, baby. Twice.

Third man no better. No matter.

A daughter. A son. Lives to guard, honor

Sergeant Eleanor, who fought for freedom

when divorce drew fierce artillery

of shame as well in purplehearted sacrifice

of factory work of loneliness like flaying

bayonets stripped from barrels by the honor guard

at her grave  looks on the veterans; warring

 

Sergeant Eleanor wore costume jewelry,

turquoise and magenta, fought on vodka,

cigarettes, bedtime stories, in combat

with doctors, bankers, teachers.

For these kids. That clear? Motherhood:

a hundred thousand acts of bravery.

And a helluva lemon meringue.

 

Sergeant Eleanor made herself goddam heard.

Three shots shock like broken eggs’ shells fly

from soldiers’ rifles lay a soldier

in the grave salute flag folded wings

 

 

Sergeant Eleanor’s daughter and son

open the car at the crossroads of dust shrieks

from a rust-ringed feathered throat

Kildeer at the right front tire,

fatherless her dusty nest a gravel patch.

Two speckled eggs warm with life.

 

 

 

 

Publication News: I am pleased to announce that an essay of mine appears in the Connecting: Celebrating the People and Places of The Hudson Highlands, a glorious, freshly-published, coffee-table-worthy book of sumptuous photographs and essays. (I was asked to write about the arts here.) There is a celebration and book-signing at Winter Hill on Thursday, November 20, from 6:00-8:00 pm. I’d be so happy to see you there.

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