Veterans' Day

Grenade gray and cold as the buckles of the aged and the legless and the puffy who pranced by down the left lane on Sandy. The traffic, at its morning rudest, barrelled westward.

With no warning, I shed a tear for the old men. A sad salute to their sunken chests like thin chickens. Their cheeks, all pompous and puffed up for the first time since last year by their withered manhood.

I had a baby and the baby is learning how to kiss for the first time. I had a baby and shoved the shrouds that were folded within my forehead back in the closet amidst the stretchpants I never wore down to the Public Defenders. Where the felons are falling further down the list of the leprous. Their roily fingers wrapped so tightly around their pickaxe.

I had to pass through detention units with my stomach all full of baby. It was hilarious, so dichotomous–the felons and the mother-to-be. While one plus one plus one still equals three times zero still equals zero. Jean-Paul Sartre times zero still equals zeros.

And the baby's just a baby. Yes, my mother and my father (not by example) taught me that. I think we learned it on the same day. I threw my life up in the air like two hot dice. Became a suckler. Started banking on a future.

While on Tuesday, the aged an the legless pranced by. I parked the baby on the curb and hailed the veterans. They still remind me of all the life that I am missing as I live it times zero plus one still equals two.

–Leanne Grabel (1987)

- - - -

a note from Leanne, Veteran's Day 2008:

i do like that piece.
i do remember those daze.
i remember that parade.
i remember my clothes, of course.
orange woolen vest.
baby stroller.
twisted mug.
working at the public defenders office.
the beginning of my career w/the criminals.
probably my current students' grandparents.

About This Story

  • Author: Leanne Grabel
  • Published Online: Jan 13, 2012