Geraldine’s father was a WWII veteran; her Uncle was in the Korean War; her Brother and Father-in law were in Vietnam; her Great Uncle was in WWI.
MY FATHER’S SUITCASE
Robert Easterway: US Navy, WWIII have my father’s handmade, wooden suit case,
With names of places, neatly printed, prominently displayed,
Quarter inch pieces of wood
Carefully glued, nailed together
Varnished to a deep, reddish brown,
Wooden grains visible,
with etchings of life scratched into its surface.
Lined with a heavy, red piece of fabric,
Carefully folded to fit the interior
Crisply tucked into the corners
Then held neatly in place,
With rounded, tarnished, sliver headed,
My father explained
He needed a place to keep his things,
A place to keep himself
During the time, when life was one second at a time
This suitcase followed him through;
Gently I removed his folded handkerchiefs and ties;
I touched his watch in silence.
I placed his Wallet with money and tie clips on the bed,
Searched through a stack of old lottery tickets
A few packs of cigarettes
And a book of matches
Pictures of a Young man in dress whites,
Another of his buddies, smiling men in hula skirts
His VFW cap, with pins and buttons
His fathers watch.
I remember his stories of shore excursions,
He laughed, embarrassed
Relaying the time he slipped into an empty oil container,
While carrying a bunch of bananas back to the ship.
I asked how he got the oil out of his clothes;
He answered flippantly, “it wasn’t easy’.
He showed me how to swab a deck,
And the `correct way’ to make a bed; using a quarter.
He never spoke of the war, at least not to me;
If asked, he would get a far away look.
It takes two weeks,
But -Seasickness eventually stops, he said.
As a child, I traced the lines of his tattoos he got during shore
Dancing girls, birds and military designs
I wonder how many soldiers have
their own handmade suitcases.
With the names of places they were sent?
A piece of themselves they hold on to
As they endure
Witnesses to history;
That speaks without words.
Esterday, R.J: U.S. Navy WWII
I haven’t forgotten –
My father’s handmade, wooden suit case
©Copyright March 10, 2007 by Gerardine Baugh
Submitted for the March 2007 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “Anthropomorphic”