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August 1969

by Steve Quig

 My brother went into the army one Monday in August.
 Soon, my mother began to have headaches
 and broke plates against the basement wall.
 I remained quietly fourteen.

 We received letters, "There is no time,"
 and "had to run the course twice." I studied
 a glossy photo of recruits on a rifle range,
 "I did this," he’d arrowed in blue ink.

 She often stayed up all night, listening
 to the all-night talk shows.
 One morning I found our dog dead
 in the kitchen. I thought it was sleeping.

 I watched ballgames, hardly thought of him.
 Postcards lined the mantel like Christmas ornaments.
 One day I dropped a model of the Missouri out the kitchen
 window to see how it would explode against the patio concrete.

 I did the same to the battleship New Jersey,
 The Iowa, the carrier Essex with its full complement
 of aircraft glued on deck.
 On Friday nights I’d go to the field

 alone, drawn by the lights, the humming, luminous air.
 I stared at girls in denim shorts leaning
 easily against the chain link fence.

 I watched crows settle like dreams
 across the outfield’s fierce green.