Updated: Oct 1, 2018
By Marian Glaser ©, July 2011
I was puzzled as a peace marshal
in nineteen sixty-five.
A mass of marchers turned out.
Clearly ‘peace’ meant
“Stop this war with Vietnam.” to them.
To me it meant
realizing war was evil, sanctioned murder,
yet we used the same word, were part of the march
and thought we communicated.
I had seen some of the aftermath as a child:
an uncle never met because he
starved during war-induced famine;
rubble to play in and find toys
played with last by dead, bombed children;
newspapers filled with articles about
ditched war planes found when
the Zuider Zee was drained;
not yet swept for land mines.
At nine months I was part of the column of refugees
leaving Arnhem and shot at by friendly fire;
at two I was too young to understand why my mother
had a nervous breakdown after visiting a Jewish friend
who was crying over a telegram informing her
that another family of her relatives had died;
a trip to the zoo ended in nightmare when cage after cage
bore a notice that the animal had died during the famine;
war horror stories rivaled bluebeard.
and never ended with ‘They lived happily ever after.’
That is a small part of my story. Bad enough :
but it cannot rival that of an eight year-old
confronted with the choice of being shot dead
or shooting his father and mother and
becoming a child soldier.
I have irritations in this chronic care hospital but
none of the order of "Will that bomb
fall on us?" or "Will my husband/brother/son
come home in a body bag or crippled
mentally or physically?"
I could only write this
in this shelter of age and peace,
far from war in time and space,
content to let younger energies form
protest groups, discuss vehemently.
I feel as strongly as ever but
want to use my remaining