Andrew Seaman CC
The Lucky Ones
In the beginning,
my father’s body was a jungle gym.
A back to climb, shoulders to grab, a neck to cling to.
His arms were branches and I was a leaf,
swinging in the breeze.
Before the beginning,
my father lived through war.
I’d trace my fingers across the edge
of the blotchy white scar
that looked like splattered paint.
And when I asked about the war,
he’d tell me about the beautiful bugs.
Centipedes a foot long
and beetles the size of his hand.
Damp nights in the jungle
when little legs crawled over him
as if his body was no more than a fallen log.
One night he got drunk,
and told me about the soldier
who died in his arms.
The soldier’s last words were my father’s last name.
There are no first names in war.
One night I got drunk,
and tried to kill myself.
My father didn’t say much in the hospital room,
just sat by my side and watched me
the way an oak tree watches a squirrel
burying acorns for the winter.
Will this one be eaten – or grow into a tree?
In the end, I lived long enough
to sit by my father’s side and watch him
in a different room, in a different hospital,
while the war still clung to his flesh like napalm,
an invisible poison seeping into pores –
a fungus rotting limbs one by one.
War takes its time to kill the lucky ones.
On the anniversary of my father’s death,
I had a dream the sun was shining.
My hair was short and blond, and I was happy.
I met my father’s ghost in a field of green
and he opened his hand
to reveal the Sternocera aequisignata.
It rested in his palm like a sacred jewel –
holding all the light of the universe
in the fragile shell of its being.
I watched it crawl up my father’s arm,
until it settled on the splattered paint scar.
Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?
M.K. Greer lives in Maryland with her family. Recent work has appeared in Rust + Moth, Reservoir Road Literary Review, Whale Road Review, and Kissing Dynamite. You can find her on Twitter: @MKGreerPoetry.
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