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