At the VA: 1968

At the VA: 1968

Live each day like it’s your last,
and someday you will be right.
Says Granddad – a man in his
77th year…I was entering my 12th.
After that:
A Doctor enters the day room
of the VA  hospital,

Doc crushes his
cigarette in the ashtray  near the
door. It’s a clove cigarette doc says.
Piss poor excuse for a smoke.
Chesterfields are a smoke.

Who’s the young man says doc.

My grandson – he says.
Granddad looks pale.
I say:
I hope we can go home soon and
hunt rattlesnakes in the timber behind the house.
Someday grandpa says.

I want to plant corn in the spring he tells me.
So do I, I tell him.

Knee high by the fourth of July.
he tells me.

Corn planting knowledge will serve me
well in years to come.

A hotel clerk in Colorado insulted your
grandmother on our honeymoon in
1920 he tells me.

Poor guy didn’t know grandpa.

Doc leaves and
darkness gathers.
We talk about
the War (again)
the Big One.

We talk about the Navy.
When you get old enough,
join the Navy, he advises.
Never join
the Army.
Too much marching in the Army.
A guy is free on the ocean even if  he doesn’t
know it.
I say I will never join
the Army. Ever.

Granddad is dying.
Prostrate is shot
In five more days
he’ll go on
planting corn
and sailing

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