Hopewell, New Jersey, May 2005
It was enough to make us weep,
half a dozen veterans of the last great war
looking like fading away,
followed by the high school band,
booming bravely into adulthood.
Next a squad in Civil War uniform,
harking back to the source of the holiday,
a fratricide that seems today
to have occurred in another country,
not just another century.
A retired Humvee
with a small girl in back
wearing a grunt-style cap
and waving mechanically;
big ones from a century ago
with wooden spokes
and other vestiges of their carriage genes,
still boxy ones from the '20s,
the streamlined '30s,
the fishtailed '50s,
a couple of Mustangs, an early Corvette;
then the fire engines, big and bigger,
like armor-plated rhinos,
our town’s brigade riding old fashioned red,
sage green from a well-heeled town nearby;
delegations of Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Brownies,
one scout troop with a five-piece band
trying like twenty-five;
a motorcycle club,
plenty of paunch and gray hair,
and, though some ponytails,
suburban angels rather than Hells.
Finally a platoon of kids
all safely helmeted,
one tireless on a pogo stick
others on scooters and bikes
and even a few on tricycles,
training for future wars.
© by Richard Greene.
Used with the author’s permission.