July  2008
No Hank Williams bone crunch
could warn them on prom night
that three years out
would be another woman
to their men,
and that their own children’s fathers
would spit-shine for the Fillipino
basegirls in mu-mus
before tabbing their lime Tanquerays.
Hard to be wife to a hero
undeployed, but combat ready,
come Valentine’s day;
staring at another six months out,
trying to pace emotions,
when next week the boys start little league.
Young moms keep stat sheets on their sons
but the boys will wait long cold months
to show dads their new batting stance.
There’s two kinds of wives
and they don’t mix:
one joins the cause
and prefers the peace of marriage
without a partner, but fidgets
in the wake of his return, knowing
the housework will lose her rhythm
and it’s back to rubber sheets on both bunkbeds,
until his next leave, or the next escalation
Her father was navy too,
and she believes women anchor men
in the service of their country.
Her waistline reflects the extent
of her patriotism.
Privately, this kind fears
the dreaded homelessness
that comes with peace.
The other kind whispers
of slipping out come next WesPAC,
her mom wants her back in Memphis,
and she may stop desiring solid food altogether,
but will drink to numb her fear
and rage for sea-faring men.
This kind no longer believes the glory,
and networks when the men are out,
for late dance nights at the Captain’s Club.
This kind rehearses
the day her kids will believe her,
praying it comes before
he returns in the night like a seal
to abduct them.
Privately, this kind ruminates
over unspeakable solutions
(that sometimes come with
the casualties of war).
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