Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Magpie 77 - End of Youth

Summer Evening, Edward Hopper, 1947

End of Youth

Summer I turned six
Walker Air Force Base
Officer housing
Officer brats playing with abandon
Parents drunk on relief
All were back from Korea
Safe in SAC.

All I remembered
Is I was late for dinner
Neighbors on their porches
Catching the desert air
A sip of Mexican vodka
In gaudy Juarez glasses
The tinkling of ice over laughter.
I slipped in the back door
Limped to the bathroom
Cold water burning on fresh cuts
A whine escaping my lips
Please let them not hear
I begged some unknown god
That had protected Dad over unknown land.

But I guess you have to believe
To get special protection
And where was this god in that garage
Where were my parents then
Why hadn't they missed me at dinner
"You're in trouble," my brother said
As I climbed into the top bunk.

"And you too," I whispered back in the dark
"Especially if I tell you left me there"
Oh, and by the way it ends here
All the special protection I have provided you
You no longer have a big sister little brother
That person is now dead
I thought as I curled in upon myself.

Summer I turned six youth ended
I knew I was alone
Against boys bigger than me and little brothers
Sticks and stones can break bones I would learn
Not being missed breaks hearts
There is no special god of deliverance
In a Roswell summer night.

J. Binford-Bell
August 2011

Image and prompt for Magpie 77 was provided by Tess Kincaid at Magpie Tales.


  1. In 1947 I was six too ... your poem takes me back ... way back. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  2. Actually the event I wrote about was 1951. And I realized after I finished and posted the poem it was the summer I was seven. But then I don't think the times changed as much then. It seemed slower and less consumer driven. My parents and their marriage had survived WWII and then Dad missing in action during the Korean conflict.

    We were practicing duck and cover in the schools and seeing films on our friend the atom. Okay, a lot like now. They were lying to us even then.

  3. Wow I enjoyed this very much
    the heartache of not being missed
    A story seen through the eyes of a child....

  4. I really enjoyed this...
    You have a wealth of emotion weaved in this, Jacqui..It reaches out to the reader...

  5. Great poem, Jacqui, laden heavy with the sadness of many small things that become an unsupportable burden.
    Complements the image so well!

  6. As many of your poems do, this made me sad - sad to the point of tears. A great write on the loneliness and awful realization of a distressed child.

  7. I was born in 1947... Your writing really sucked me in. Wonderful writing.


I appreciate all kind comments on my art and poetry.