poetryrepairs 15,04:047

ABIGAIL B. CALKIN Soul of my Soldier
:Why He Is Who He Is

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ABIGAIL B. CALKIN
Why He Is Who He Is

1. As he packed his duffle bags I smelled the thick odor of canvas, odor of Einstein’s Army Surplus store. When he returned, They smelled of dry sand stuck in every stitch of canvas. Twenty years later he uses one every week as he flies back and forth to Juneau. On the faded bottom his rank, name, and SSN barely recognizable even to the two of us. 2. He has calmed. Does not yell so much. Still doesn’t like sudden change, especially from the rear. “I’ll get another check this week.” Thanks it says. Thanks for three tours. Thanks for 28 years years that changed your life for the better years that make your soul ache unpredictably. 3. I don’t know where Uncle Joe’s leather helmet went. Did you give it to Seth or Abi, Barry or Phil? The one he wore as a WW II pilot. I hear your stories Green canvas, uniforms, patches, blood, four rows of ribbons, dead bodies, blown out of bed, helicopters, boots, perfection, 18 years old, Jim Carlson, Lon Binh, Pleiku, Bedouins, reconstructing a face, sadness, hugs, tears, drained the life 4. I stroke his hand, each finger wide from his work at the chainsaw or sawmill, his 41 zigzag stitches lost in swollen flesh. When he returned from the desert delicate stitching of others’ surgeries reduced his own swelling and I could stroke his jagged, chainsawed scar again.

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