IN THE HEYDAYS OF HIS EYES
(taut jeans dancing)

An Anthology of Poetry about Being Young and Growing Up
 
 
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A SICK CHILD

Randall Jarrell

The postman comes when I am still in bed. "Postman, what do you have for me today?" I say to him. (But really I'm in bed.) Then he says--what shall I have him say? "This letter says that you are president Of--this word here; it's a republic." Tell them I can't answer right away. "It's your duty." No, I'd rather just be sick. Then he tells me there are letters saying everything That I can think of that I want for them to say. I say, "Well, thank you very much. Good-bye." He is ashamed, and turns and walks away. If I can think of it, it isn't what I want. I want...I want a ship from some near star To land in the yard, and beings to come out And think to me: "So this is where you are! Come." Except that they won't do, I thought of them....And yet somewhere there must be Something that's different from everything. All that I've never thought of--think of me!


THE DEATH OF THE BALL TURRET GUNNER

Randall Jarrell

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State, And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.* Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.° * “my wet fur froze” The sweating of pre-flight anxiety wet the airman’s fur-lined jacket and then the sweat froze at high altitude. The reference is to the wet fur of a new-born animal. °Author's Note: "A ball turret was a plexiglass sphere set into the belly of a B-17 or B-24 and inhabited by two .50 caliber machine-guns and one man, a short, small man. When this gunner tracked with his machine-guns a fighter attacking the bomber from below, he revolved with the turret; hunched upside-down in his little sphere, he looked like the foetus in the womb. The fighters which attacked him were armed with cannon firing explosive shells. The hose was a steam hose."

 
 
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