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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

A CASUALTY LIST, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: There was always waiting in our mother's eyes
Last Line: Anxiety or wonder any more.
Alternate Author Name(s): Davis, Leland, Mrs.; Pawtuxie
Subject(s): Death; War - Home Front; Dead, The


There was always waiting in our mother's eyes,
Anxiety and wonder and surmise,
Through the long day and in the longer, slow,
Still afternoons, that seemed to never go,
And in the evenings, when she used to sit
And listen to our casual talk and knit.
And when the day was dark and rainy, and
Not fit to be abroad in, she would stand
Beside the window and peer out and shiver,
As small, sleek raindrops joined to make a river
That rushed, tempestuous, down the window-pane,
And say: "I wonder what they do in rain?
Is it wet there in the trenches, do you think?"
And she would wonder if he had his ink
And razor-blades and tooth-paste that she sent;
And if he read much in his Testament,
Or clean forgot, some mornings, as boys will.
But always the one wonder in her eyes
Was: "Is he living, living, living, still
Alive and gay? Or lying dead somewhere
Out on the ground, and will they find him there?"
She closed her lids each night upon that look
Of waiting, as a hand might close a book,
But never change the words that were within
And when the morning noises would begin
A new day, and a young sun touched the skies,
Again she woke with waiting in her eyes.
But that is over now. She does not read
The lists of casualties since that one came
A week or two ago. There is no need.
She's making sweaters now for other men,
And knitting just as carefully as then.
There is no change except that as she plies
Her needles, swift and rhythmic as before,
There is no waiting in our mother's eyes,
Anxiety or wonder any more.





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