Tuesday, May 10, 2011

may 9

it's been several years
since we spent the may holidays in moscow.

the ninth of may
is victory day in russia.
and to a boy whose grandfather
fought in that ugly war,
and who "grew up on war movies
and war songs,"
and to a nation whose grandfathers
fought in that war--
and to a nation who was devastated by that war,
despite an ultimate victory,
may 9 is a day of pride, of remembrance,
of solemnity and honor.

and as alex holds such fond memories
of being a boy led by the hand
to watch the victory day parade,
jaw-dropping at each tank that would roll down the street,
he's always had a fascination with them
and finally got to lead his own children
to watch the parade,
as his father once led him.

and so we watched them too
as they rattled down arbat street,
closing our ears and our noses,
loud and smoky were they.

then taking advantage of the rare opportunity
to get around the city so easily
(holiday traffic)
we made a whole day of the festivities.

after a leisurely lunch
we went to gorky park,
ambled around the boat pond,
let cotton candy melt in our mouths,
and listened and watched
as folks dressed in WWII military costume
played war song after war song on the accordion,
sang with tears in their eyes
("four years mama hasn't seen her son. . .")
and danced in the shade of the newly leaved trees.

we paid a visit to alex's grandparents then,
who had spent the morning watching the parade on tv.
we congratulated his grandfather,
as is custom to do,
and later he went into the bedroom
and pulled out his box of medals.

he doesn't talk about the war much--
but i have listened to his story
a few times
with such respect and admiration
for the courage demanded
and for the stamina it took to make it past
that beast that claimed 26 million russian lives--
as he's told how the notice of the loss of his brother
arrived the morning he was headed out himself,
and how what saved him on the front
was a lucky wound
which removed him from the front lines.

these days,
there aren't too many of the veterans left
to tell their story.
once in awhile
you will see one or two on the street
sporting their medals proudly,
and you can't but help
to think about the life they've lived,
the history they have witnessed,
and miraculously survived.

and you also can't help
but say a silent, solemn prayer of thanks
for the peace and safety
you get to lay down to sleep to
every night.


Maggie Ann said...

Words fail me, what a moving post. What a hero your husband's Grandfather truly is. I'm glad he is still with you all.

Yulia G-S said...

Эх, да, я даже заплакала пока читала...