‘Memorial Day Bridges’

I wrote this poem one Memorial Day in the late 1970s. I was living in Dracut, where I had attended an early morning tribute to veterans. Afterwards, I drove to northeast Maine to see a friend from high school who had moved to the Bangor area. I roughed out the poem that night and revised it several times before it was published in my collection “Strong Place: Poems ’74-’84.” —PM


Memorial Day Bridges


That morning on Parker Bridge in Massachusetts,

Vets of Foreign Wars fired a volley over wreath-christened Beaver Brook.

Carrying heavy rifles like suitcases at their sides,

They returned to an old fire truck, Post 315’s parade wagon.

A hundred yards from the bridge a mud turtle’s dome,

Like an olive-steel doughboy’s helmet,

Had been run over by a car—the cracked house droozling yolk.

A boy in a baseball cap yelled for a jeep to finish off the reptile.

That night in Newport, Maine, a dry ring of flowers on a tripod

Marked the town’s salute chiseled in bridge stone.

Below the cement deck the Sebasticook River blacked out.

Foam rushed through spaces in the dam.


—Paul Marion (c) 1984, 2011