Army Mom’s Safe Haven

Fran Castan


Fran Castan, a native of Brooklyn, moved to Hong Kong with her six-month-old daughter and her first husband, Sam Castan, when he became Asia bureau chief of Look Magazine. He had reported from Vietnam for three years prior to that assignment, but was killed only six months after the couple made their home in the Far East. In the time since, Ms. Castan worked as an editorial assistant at The New Yorker, an editor at Scholastic Magazines and as editorial director of Learning Corporation, the former educational subsidiary of Columbia Pictures. She first began to write poetry at the age of 40.

With thanks to Wise Women's Web


The widow always wears a black coat.
She is cold in this coat even in summer.
She is here to receive the flag.
She is here to say hers is a small sacrifice
for God and for country.
Valium is the drug of choice for
such occasions.
She will not cry out.
She will not collapse.
Two men, solid as a pair of
flank her and grip her arms.
They wear dark suits or other uniforms.
"Hero" is the theme of
the eulogy,
as if her husband chose to give his life.
Tonight, she will sleep with the widow's quilt,
the folded flag taken from his coffin.

©Copyright 1996 by Fran Castan

From the book, "The Widow's Quilt"