We Called It Armistice Day

Reprinted from The Journal of Applied Poetics, December 2015

imgres

WE CALLED IT ARMISTICE DAY

Until we didn’t—on parents day at school
Our teacher asked Does anyone know
the new name of this day–
I turned around and looked at
My father, sitting on a folding chair
leaning against his cane, he nodded to me–
Old school, cracked speckled floors
in the halls, dark wood in the classrooms.
Windows climbed up to the ceiling.
Playground, half  cement, the rest blacktop–
the farther from the school the rougher the boys played–
the girls sat on the brick wall next to Christopher Avenue,
in sixth grade some of them got bras, the rest of us
stayed flat-chested under our white safety patrol belts
My father always asked, was her father in the service?
Army? Navy, maybe? Only my uncle
stayed out of the war—he was too old
had kids had asthma–
My father got a scar on his forehead
got a smoking habit, lost 35 lbs in Manchuria
he  told us  he forecast the weather in China
so we could beat the Japs,
he ate rice and– he averred–dogs and cats
he  flew over the hump–
then sailed to Oran, took a troop ship home
was skinny when he came off the gangplank
my mother said he didn’t sleep well
her Dalmatian barked and growled at him
he didn’t like the house
she had bought on her own when he was away
he preferred the old one
He bought the Legion’s paper poppies after church
or in the Food Fair parking lot
I kept them on my dresser
clear up till Christmas

 

Lynne Viti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “We Called It Armistice Day

  1. Christmas 1956? Wow, Lynne. That was a long time ago. Our fathers were barely recovering, but I doubt that anyone told them that was okay. They came home and had children and worked hard. I love your father’s query: “Did her father serve?” My father never asked that question. As far as I knew, all the fathers served.

    I’ve read this poem before. It continues to resound.

    Like

Comments are closed.