Iraq War – dream american

walking through a sunlit meadow, the colors of wildflowers swirling around your feet, bright blues and soft greens; in the air little pinpricks of light dance, and in the middle of this meadow a wooden plank stands resolutely, having been stuck in the ground some time ago. Barely weathered, the corners are smooth, but otherwise the plank is unimpressive. It’s just THERE and not in the roofing of the nearby farmhouse, so pretty and cozy. Hands out now, passed the plank, feeling the grasses creeping slowly up to waist-length feeling every stem and no stem

back home dinner is set “did you feed the dog?” asks mom, and yes, you did feed the dog. The air inside is sticky-hot and you wash up, lathering the bar soap onto your face and arms but still now sweet sweat beads around your elbows and one drop falls to the floor. “I did ___ today,” you say. Dad looks at you between bites and doesn’t smile, his jaw chewing cud in big closed circles, you smile, he smiles, he takes his fork and in one deft motion stabs a piece of meat and chews it up like some

you say “Mommy, can we talk to ___ today?” and Mommy doesn’t even look up, her eyes are on her food and she’s not even eating. Her red potatoes sit on her plate, arranged perfectly precisely by the meat. The forks and knives. Finally she closes her eyes and puts her napkin on her legs. Her eyes focus on your dad

SON, there’s something we have to talk about. We can’t call ___ tonight because he’s gone,

at this point dad looks straight at you and holds your gaze

SON, he died, someone killed him in the war, so he won’t be coming home

a light breeze wafts in through the window and ruffles the off-white curtains

you are young, and your dad is telling you something that will change everything, and your mouth is open, his lips pursed, his arm now resting on the table by your red potatoes, fingers lightly clenched

SON, this will be hard but we will have to make the best of this

mom cries

SON, you’re going to have to help more now, keep working and we’ll all get through this

dad’s rock-hard jaw quivers

SON, we have to work our way

the drapes puff

SON, it will be ok

mom is shaking

SON, gone

DAD, I know


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