Growing Up Army
It was great.
But mostly it was grapes,
moving from place to place
every next erasing last
with a fresh green skin, or crimson, or purple,
growing up a series, growing up pieces,
a cluster of worlds with thin borders
and wildly varying geographies
hooked by the hangers of providence
to the crooked stem of my narrative,
and the life I live I have lived with this sense;
remembering now as best as I can
with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in my hand:
Toy dump trucks under wide bleached skies.
Swimming ivy in California.
Crossing with crayons the calendar boxes
until dad’s return from Vietnam.
Collecting glittering rocks in El Paso,
their shine disappearing in the wet of the hose.
Mysterious trails through the dark woods of Germany.
Cigarette smoke at the little league diamond.
Brooklyn bricks. Cockroaches scurrying.
The Verrazano Narrows stretched into fog.
Fire-ringed parade field in northern Virginia.
The stone-faced MPs guarding the gate.
Rows of camouflaged transport trucks
silent along the Puget Sound shoreline.
Smokestacks and honey trucks marinate the air
above the green taxis swarming Pusan.
Growing up Army was Thompson,
was Lemberger, was Concord and Valiant,
Moon Drops, and Riesling, and Fry Muscadine
mixing into an ephemeral mist.
And when I insist on these fragments of memory
creating a fusion of all of the pieces,
it feels like intrusion into the life of somebody else,
a tempting thesis I almost believe
were it not for this wine—
the warmth in each swallow
burrowing its way through my crowded chest
to touch the vine that still remains
to give a name to all of these moments
as really having happened in time,
and maybe now raisins,
and maybe now phantoms,
but for all of them grateful,
all of them mine.
I am working on a chapbook (a small themed collection of poems) called Somewhere Phantoms. These poems are exploring the tenuous connection to one’s past through memory. Having moved around a lot as an army brat, my memories of childhood are somewhat fragmented and often feel illusory. It was meaningful to explore my childhood through this poem.
Photo Credit: Bruno on Pixabay.com. CCO: Creative Commons License.