I was a kid when we hit Mile-High suburbs, carcasses of Winnebagos
strung out behind us on the plains, the mile-long gas lines coming in view.
Doubt ate me like flowers. I’d seen the scalded girl, the jungle on fire.
I asked, what is there to fight for? What explains this warfare?
Shush, said Aunt Bet, you think you’re better than the VFWs?
Wait’ll you get grown. What did I know then about old GIs
in semi-transparent shirts, dancing Saturday night away under
a tarnished mirror-ball? Let the Marines be good citizens, I answered,
I’d rather be naked. No uniform suits me. In Denver, I dreamed
of soldiers, dreamed of my gentle, demented mother driving into town in
a scrounged-up travel-trailer. Someone else’s predicate centered my paragraphs.
Someone else’s day made up my mystery. Adult answers didn’t satisfy
once I discovered grown-up was just another war
on a field I didn’t recognize, once I saw my skin was useless armor.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 18, Issue 5.