Deborah Bacharach


In 1969 I had secrets—cookies
I stole, dolls I buried head first
in the sand, forty thousand
Hmong carrying CIA guns.
Oh Sarah Bernhardt my mother
would tease when I grew red
and howled. I wasn’t
holding anything back—
not the North Vietnamese,
not Communism. I couldn’t
cut my pot roast and carrots.
When I sipped, I spilled.
Seventeen thousand
troops, 50,000 civilians
killed. I don’t remember three.
My mother told me about the dolls,
the sandbox. She showed me photos,
curly haired Debby in the high chair,
grinning through a milk mustache.
It is 1998, a Friday. Lying
on my bed in Indiana, I go looking
for needlework and learn
about my army. Fog
seeps over the fields. Someone
should have told me sooner.
Fog buries the trees, even
neon. I should have asked.
If I ventured outside, I would be
blind in brittle snow. If I stomped,
grass blades would crack in
frozen mud pits filled with footprints.
The Plain of Jars filled with bombs.


Return to Volume 7.2






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