My Father’s Letters by Rochelle Hope Mehr
The V—mail is so old and frayed
Almost sepia now
Like the wedding picture of your parents
Posing so stiffly
Like two mannequins
You were visiting Sorrento in May of ‘45
When Marshal Alexander’s Special Order of the
Day announced the German and Italian
Fascist armies’ unconditional surrenders
You thank your Mom for the
Canned fish and chocolates
And for forwarding your magazines
You are disappointed that
You missed your promotion
But happy when Mussolini is hanged
You tell your Mom not to worry
When your sister’s husband
Is inducted on V-E Day —
She’s in such a delicate state now,
Pregnant and with two kids
Does your Mom know which outfit
Your cousin is stationed with?
Thanks to your other sister and to your brother
For their letter
You heard bad news
Of your Cornell fraternity brothers
You saw a captured German soldier —
Sixteen or seventeen —
He smiled and waved at you —
You cursed at him
He turned away with
“What appeared to be a hurt expression”
I suddenly realize what is missing.
The letters are addressed to both of your parents
But you write only, “Dear Mom.”
Where is Pop?
No mention of Pop.
Not even, “How is Pop?”
Or, “Say hi to Pop.”
So formal —
Even formidable —
Your letters —
Of compelling times.
But underneath all that black ink —
An icy silence.