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Her Only Son
by Elsa Fernandez
Gently wrinkled brown face
Eyes like ripe black currants sparkle impishly.
She sits on her wicker rocker,
listening, as I read the poem aloud.
At ninety-four she has been
a widow for 45 years.
I want to go there, she says.
To where my boy Richard died.
Holding up a frail finger,
she points to a frame beside her bed.
It is the photograph we took
of Richard’s name
on the Vietnam War Memorial
in Constitution Gardens in 1985.
Richard Jones, died, 1972.
He was 24 years old.
His Dad died soon after.
I buried them both.
I want to see where my son died.
I cannot tell her she is too old
to travel across the world.
I continue to read her the poem.
Did the little Napalm girl die? she asks.
No. She was taken to the hospital
by the photographer and recovered.
She is 56 years old today and
lives in Canada.
You are right, she says.
The living have moved on.
The ones who love us will miss us.
I smile at her eloquence.
Oh child, she laughs--
that was not me!
The handsome movie star,
Keanu Reeves said that on TV.
My Richard looked like him.
Author's Note: I was moved and inspired by a poem written by M.J. Moore in OLLI’s Poetry Group:
"In the Museum of Death, Ho Chi Minh City, December 2018"
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elsa Fernandez grew up in Asia. She has lived in San Francisco since 1970 and never gets tired of this lovely city. She has travelled the world and still gets excited flying back home and to finally land at SFO. Her family is scattered around the world—India, Australia, Dubai, England, Ireland and Argentina. She is a political junkie and majored in Journalism and Political Science. She loves music and plays the piano quite well (one of her dreams was to own a piano bar in upcountry Maui . . . she would probably call it the Maui Moon!). Writing poetry is an emotional outlet for her.
Other works in this issue:
The Squirrels of Candlestick Point
Bay Area Neighborhoods
The Bayview District of San Francisco
Book Review - Dreams and Blessings