The clairvoyante, a major general’s wife,
The secretaries’ sibyl, read the letters
They brought her from their GI soldier-lovers,
Interpreting the script. I went along
One afternoon with writing of my own.
“This writing is by one you cannot trust,”
She frowned, and all the secretaries smiled.
But when she took my palm, she read the brown
Fingers for too much smoking and the lines
Of time and fate for a long and famous life.
“Soon you will take a trip by land and sea.”
Across the hall, her husband, half asleep
And propped high on his pillows, when I bent
To shake his hand, seeing my uniform,
Called in a whisper as if he still dreamed,
“I told him not to go to Russia!” Then,
Remembering the woman at my jeep,
Among the smoking tanks and half-tracks, crying,
“My husband fell in Russia!” I thought I saw
For him the summer uniforms in snow,
Partisans, savage reprisals, day-long strafing,
Long lines of prisoners never to return,
Comrades armless, legless, and blind. But he,
Clutching my sleeve to pull me closer, whispered,
“It was the SS did it, not my men.
The week before the armistice, they took
Three just-conscripted boys who were afraid
And hanged them, German children, the sky green
Above the uniforms too big for them,
As we saw when we found and cut them down.
It was then that I despaired to live or die.”
The secretaries waiting with their coats on,
She thanked me for my visit, and, “Next week
Bring cigarettes and coffee, please,” she said.
Edgar Bowers's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Clear-seeing by Edgar Bowers )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
- Naveed Khalid
(1 January 1903 - 13 March 1976)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
Sir Walter Scott
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941)
- Christmas Trees, Robert Frost
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- Alone, Edgar Allan Poe
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- Ring Out , Wild Bells, Alfred Lord Tennyson
- A Visit from St. Nicholas, Clement Clarke Moore
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas