Image by Mary Kling
Tiger, Tiger, Tiger!
“I think history is continuous--it doesn’t begin or end
on Pearl Harbor Day or 9/11. We have to learn about
the past, but never be imprisoned by it.”
Four blood red chairs face the bay. Bob’s wife leaves them that way.
Bob had a tradition of meeting with three of his Navy buddies every
December 7th--since they were all Pearl Harbor survivors. They
started this getting together, this ceremony in 1960.
They talked about the curse of Seven, attacked on a Sunday, both
the seventh day of the week & the month, as seven battleships
were moored in a nice line like sitting ducks, and the first wave
of Japanese zeroes came in at 7:55 am.
Bob had been on the Nevada. It left its berth & made a break for the
open sea, but it was attacked & damaged so severely, it had to beach
itself. Danny had been on shore in the barracks, since his ship, the
Pennsylvania was in dry dock. He had been getting ready for church.
Joe had been on the Oklahoma, that was hit by several torpedoes &
was so severely damaged, it listed to port & tipped over upside down.
He had been beneath decks in the stern. Ten nightmarish hours later,
the welders opened up an escape hole for some of them. Harry had
been on the California--hit by several bombs it remained afloat for
three days before it sank. He had been a deck gunner, & his crew
shot down four zeros to thunderous applause.
By 1990, it was just Bob & Joe left. They didn’t talk much, just sat
there staring off to the West, hardly looking at each other. Joe died
on 09/11/2003. Bob sat alone for a decade more, smoking his Lucky
Strikes, drinking a beer, & his wife enjoyed listening to him talking
boisterously to his three pals, all yakking it up like they had fifty
years before. Every year on December 7th, she thinks she can still
hear them faintly on the wind.
Four empty chairs face
West toward the Pacific, &memories reside.
Posted over on dVerse Poets Pub for Haibun Monday