Charlotte Matthews

December 7, 1941

When the war came over the radio,

my mother, the youngest and at home,

heard the single words like trinkets

to collect, buttons portioned in flowered boxes,

and loved some, their feel on her tongue.

She must have heard the Sunday announcer

and thought it was the same as always,

the brief news.  But then she must have understood

something in his voice, how he spoke more clearly.

Maybe her aunt kept the radio on for too long

and quietly set down her mending.

Or maybe she simply wondered

about the names, how they sounded.

Whatever it was, she held to the word

proudly naming her puppet Pearl.

Her father, hearing this, slapped her hard.




“December 7, 1941” first appeared in Sou’wester, Volume 30, Number 2.