Claudia Whitehead McCoy

Words Not Spoken, Truths Untold

My Grandfather never spoke

Of the Great War.

Instead he told of dancing

With French peasant girls.

Sometimes I wanted to dance

With my Grandfather,

But he had left his legs

In a foxhole in Belgium.

My Father never spoke

Of World War II.

Instead he told of

Telling stories around a campfire

On Guadalcanal.

Sometimes late at night

A dozen years later,

He would scream and writhe in pain

With the Malaria

He couldn’t leave in the Pacific.

My cousin never spoke

Of the Korean Conflict.

Instead he told

Us how much our letters meant

In that cold forgotten place.

Sometimes I would like to write

To him again, but

The telegram forgot to mention

The zip code for someone killed in action.

My husband never speaks

Of Vietnam,

Instead he tells me

How beautiful the flowers were.

Sometimes in July

When fireworks crack and sparkle

He cowers in a closet,

Holding his head

And calling out, ”Incoming! Incoming!”

Do I speak to my children

Of wars gone and those yet to be?

I can’t begin to know

The horror or the exhilaration.

I’ve never been there.

But sometimes I tell them

Of Peace and the price

That some have paid

For this illusive gift.

And if I never spoke

Of war?

How would they understand

About honor, courage and patriotism?

But sometimes I have to tell them

About greed, power and carelessness.

Because war isn’t always what it’s said to be,

And God isn’t always on our side.