On family medical leave from food service,
Stan spends Father's Day at the VA hospital
keeping silent watch on his dying father.
As D-Day shadows flicker from the History
Channel onto the face of dogface Stanley Zelinski Senior,
Silver Star, Bronze Star, man of steel, Stan wonders
what images animate his dad's rapid eye movements.
As our landing craft approaches Omaha,
Stan's dad refuses to talk about the war,
my buddy shows-off pictures of family.
He wears an early Father's Day present,
a bright red silk necktie with the footprints
of his baby. For good luck, he says zeroing
his chest with his finger, or a good target. We
even to mom. Yet, after sixty years,
the nightmares continue to haunt.
Later, on shore, I look behind me.
His dad never understood Stan,
A one-armed man kneels
facing the sea, awaiting return
of his fingers, wrist, elbow ....
why he burned his draft card, dodging
his duty, running away to Canada, returning
years later when an uncle phoned about mom.
When he turns toward me,
Stan never saw his father cry,
half his face gone, I see the neck
tie. I want to wave ... I want to run ...
but only my eyes work.
not even at mom's funeral.
The last words he had with Stan:
"I have no son."
I watch him watch me.
Holding his father's skeletal hand, Stan watches
Then he stands and staggers,
disappearing behind a curtain
of smoke and dust. Gone.
A piece of me goes with him.
the last sign of life fall down his cheeks,
and then he kisses them dry.
by Donna R. Kevic
... who is a food service worker in a state-run mental health
hospital, a member of the Barbour County (WV) Writer's Workshop,
with works published in Jewish Currents,
The Comstock Review, and The Birmingham
Review. Her play, The Interview, won second place
in the Playwright's Circle 2005 drama contest. Her poetry
chapbook, Laundry, was published by Main Street Rag Press