My Father's War
Life began with Pearl Harbor, he always said,
tossing away his youth like hole shabby socks,
while he stuffed our childhood with D-Day,
Normandy, Omaha Beach, Saint Lo,
names like a reunion of familiar
relatives we had never met.
Midway, beachhead, kamikaze,
woven into our hours: a rug
that covered us at night, dreaming not
of sugar plums, but battalions and bazookas.
Guadalcanal, Gestapo, Iwo Jima
joining the family at dinner, crowding
the small table, demanding more potatoes,
devouring all the corn and meatloaf.
Military conventions each summer posed
as vacations where we swam and played
with other children while Dunkirk and Vichy
shrieked loudly in the background,
where the wives window shopped
Luftwaffe and victory gardens,
and the men bought blitzkriegs
and panzers at the bar,
none of us noticing father's
own slow slide into the bottle.
Was it during the story of Wake Island?
The Third Reich? Battle of the Bulge?
Was it the sameness, the tameness
of life after war, house with mortgage?
Maybe the payments on the old Plymouth?
The weekly check never quite stretching?
Wife and daughters never quite measuring up
to that brotherhood born of men?
About the author:
Allison Thorpe is the author of several collections of poetry. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in South85 Journal, Scapegoat Review, The MacGuffin, Kentucky Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine, and Appalachian Heritage, among others.