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Page 48
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<< 47. From a Letter to a Hootchmate49. Blood on Canvas (poem) >>

New Year (poem)

By Madeleine Mysko

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"Merry Christmas, Boys" —greeting on a wreath at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial of Baltimore County

In the winter dusk, I round the corner
of the courthouse and there it is—
that block of granite carved with the names
of so many boys of my generation,

same as ever, but graced now with snow.
I remove a glove and touch one name—a boy
I might have fumbled toward in the dim light
of the CYO, a boy I might have kissed

but for a certain number in the draft.
I take a photograph. I don't know why.
I see myself reflected in polished stone,
bundled against the cold, camera blocking

half my changed face. Oh, dear boys,
all these hometown years, these Christmas wreaths,
Easter lilies, paper flags on Memorial Day
and the Fourth of July—I don't know what

to bring, but here I am. My kids are older
now than you were when you kissed your
weeping moms and flew away to Nam.
My kids have children of their own.

—Madeleine Mysko, served in the Army Nurse Corps from 1969-1970 on the "burn ward" of Brooke Army Medical Center.

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