Remembrance on Independence Day
Edward Byrne


Dark smoke rose from charred
          upper floors of a factory farther

on shore. Only a night before,
          the squads of soldiers had closed

the port, secured those old boats
          moored along the wharf, fragile

cargo warming all morning long
          under a scorching summer sun.


When my father and I viewed
          the shooting through field glasses,

we counted a couple of dead
          on the dock--pockets searched

at first, arms and legs bound,
          then their bodies lifted, tossed

to the sea and lost to sight, one
          black shoe bobbing like a buoy.


For more than a week we said
          little to each other, told nobody

else about what we had seen.
          We knew we were only visitors,

just stopping off for a few days,
          making our way to Morocco--

nothing but tourists, sightseers
          drawn to odd places of interest.


Even today, though thirty years
          later, as a small gray cloud hovers

above the picnic charcoal pit,
          where my son and I are grilling

our holiday dinner, I still think
          of that July when the two distant

figures disappeared, slid beneath
          rising waters of an afternoon tide.

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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