Blue Star Mother
Her oldest boy Slim, too old for war,
brings her the box he calls radio—
thick wood cabinet with knobs and a grill,
wires he strings through the doorway
of the bedroom to the kitchen.
He says, Turn this button here, Mama.
You can listen to President Roosevelt
and reporters across the ocean
talking about what all we’re doing
to win this war. Sometimes she gets
a letter from Bill. Can’t tell you anything
I don’t know myself, he’ll write.
Tom sends clippings from Stars and Stripes
with notes in the margin: We were here
or Me and the boys were in on this one.
From Charlie, nothing.
Three blue stars in her front window.
Every night before bed,
she shuffles to the window
where one by one she walks her finger
around the edge of each one,
feels the coarse fabric, the uneven stitch.
At breakfast, she stares at the box as though
her boys are inside. You got to turn it on, Mama,
Slim tells her, pulls a chair beside hers,
turns the knob, and static worse than
dying chickens screams out then settles.