My father age twenty-five.
his desires divided,
stood in line with naked men
waiting for the army to welcome them.
They listened to his slow, weak heart,
and said he’d stay home to do his part.
My father age twenty-five
managed to stay alive.
While his friends went off to foreign shores,
at home he built bombers for the war.
His friends returned broken and stayed,
with their damaged mates from their brigades.
Dad was whole and grieved the loss
of friendships torn by life or death.
On the decades rolled
and now each soul
who stood entwined within that line
is gone, save dad, whose slow, frail heart
turned out to be his strongest part.
Dad thinks back upon that line,
and celebrates birthday ninety-nine.