Before the base shut down,
they wandered the streets of Newport,
sailor hats cocked to one side
and a Gene Kelly spring in their stride.
War wasn't yet a teacher,
wiping their innocence clean.
My cousin came back from the 'big one',
just to be killed on the road by a drunk
with far better aim than the Germans.
After Nam, with my husband land-based in Newport,
I scoured the cobblestone streets
for some sign my cousin had been there.
Maybe I thought ghosts of old sailors
returned to where their free fall began,
came to retrace their path home.
Back to their mother's arms.
Back to a lover's embrace.
No different, really, in that longing
from any of us, when our own
life-changing wars begin.
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