For Lee

On second thought
I start to write
since you were less
a picture
than most I’ve known.

Or maybe it’s that you were more,
more spirit, the neat yeast
kneading liver,
spilling, stealing
your left, ex-officer’s leg.

It may be that that—
I don’t remember—
was just another of the stories,
never told to me or anyone
but spoken softly, smiling
into the Thanksgiving living room
for the whole family to know:
the whiskey and the wedding limp
and the wondering Oh My God
at the bottles blank and scattered as your stare
in the dim facility dorm room.

I know you most
in grandma’s typical tales:
how you called
the garden lining limestones
the family rocks;
how already out of breath and blood
in your first uniform
you panted to God when the thief,
turning back to laugh,
crashed into an air conditioner
and collapsed in the shaken condensation;
how you were the first in
and found the boy wide-eyed and smiling
like the memory of a mirror.

She always looks at me then,
when you’ve walked among the highest of the dead,
and says it isn’t any wonder.

Daniel Fitzpatrick lives in Hot Springs, AR, with his wife and daughter. The three enjoy micro-farming, Russian novels, and Dr. Seuss. Daniel’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The 2River View and PILGRIM.

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