Not Understanding War
by Carol Ann Ravert

When the siren screeched
Daddy rushed to slip a
"Block Warden" armband over
the sleeve of his jacket
kissing Mommy good-bye
went out into the night.
Mommy ran through the house
pulling down blackout
shades in all the windows
turning off lights.

My job to corral two little
sisters, play games with them
a harder job during air raids.
We lived close to Strategic Air Command
sitting ducks for the enemy.

On warm nights, we sat in
screened-in porch and
watched searchlights
waving through starry sky
searching for enemy planes
afraid we might see one.
Daddy walked around the block
searching for lights still on,
for cars with their lights on.

It was scary when Daddy left us
to sit in the dark.
Mommy told us Block Warden
was Daddy's way of serving.
She said everyone helped
by not wasting anything
string or shiny gum wrapper foil.
She said we helped
by eating everything on our plates,
by wearing mended socks
over and over, again and again,
wearing itchy, scratchy, ugly underwear
my grandmother made out of feed sacks.

I never could understand war.

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