What We Remember (Memorial Day)

Here are some messages for you, before the poem. Some people get poems twice because. Because. My internet mentor Ilana told me that you should keep the email that says mail chimp on the bottom. MAIL CHIMP. If you understand this you know more than I do. Also, ilana started a wonderful podcast https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-other-stories/id994789280. It’s called The Other Stories, for writers and people who like writers and stories. Here it is. And now a poem.

What We Remember

Soldiers are always young.
It’s hard to be
a soldier. You never
understand how could you what war is
what war means and why
we fight. What we remember
are specifics. Ideas
are in another category.

When we went to Vietnam
in February we met
many people North and South
telling stories of American
soldiers and their kindness.
Vietnamese liked American
soldiers more than the French.

I thought I understood
the Vietnam War
more than I did.

Yesterday on our way
to Price Chopper we stopped
at a road truck yard sale
hosted by Bill a Vietnam Veteran,
on Memorial Day.
We told Bill we’d been to Vietnam.
The war was the most complicated
time of his life. He loved it there,
Bill said. We bought a doll
from Bill a male doll with glasses
and plaid pants.
Maybe we’ll call
the doll Bill.

Esther Cohen
Let me tell you why I'm here, and why I hope you'll join me. I am here to poem, to play with words, to tell stories when I can, and to ask you for yours. Words are what I love, how I see, and what I say. Words are how I know my life, and how I find my friends. I'm here to ask you to join me. Right here. To send me your stories, and your poems. And to read mine when you can.


  1. Yes, it’s hard to be a soldier, and people at war are usually young. I was 31 when I spent 8 months on the Golan Heights in the Combat Engineering Corps facing the Syrians in the Yom Kippur War in 1973/74. Is that young? I don’t know anymore. The oldest active soldier I know is Dov Yermiya, who was the commander of his kibbutz in 1948, and who was 71 in 1982 when he was placed in charge of coordination with the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Out of that experience he wrote his best-selling anti-war book “My War Diary”, which he asked me to translate to English. I did most of the translation while I was on reserve duty in the Jordan Valley section of the West Bank. And today Dov is over 100 – they’ve got longevity genes in that family, and his grandson is our computer adviser, working on his Masters Thesis for the Comparative Literature Dept. at Tel Aviv U. on the influence of rock on Israeli music, with an emphasis on singer Arik Einstein.

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