The Evening Telegram printed
names of soldiers wanting mail.
Mother chose Robert Smith.
Wrote, in teacher’s Palmer script,
of ordinary happenings
in our little Wisconsin town.
What birds were at the feeder,
the fox or deer she saw,
how much snow fell,
hoping he was doing well.
Nothing sad or troublesome.
She wrote often, all during the war.

Sometimes, a letter thanking her
would come from a distant battle place,
Italy, or France maybe,
with the military postmark.
A.P.O. 45, New York,
censored by army examiner.

War ended in August, ’45.
The following Christmas,
a card arrived
showing a black man
sitting by the decorated tree.
He was afraid, if she knew,
letters “from home” would stop.

It made no difference, she confided.
He was fighting for us all,
and she was his pal.
For more than fifty years,
his greeting was saved in her shoebox
with anniversary cards from Pa,
and fancy old valentines.

They didn’t write much longer.
He was back home then,
and that war was over.

—Peggy Trojan, Brule