Scott Hightower depicts a vulnerable veteran from a child’s perspective, to powerful effect.
He was old. At somewhere over thirty,
he was the final step of discipline.
One night, at the yard gate,
she lit into him without a smile.
Made him loiter out there, just
beyond where the porch light
fell, until she thought the three
of us were asleep in our beds.
Edging into the bathroom dark:
nothing discernibly evil. No glint
of auspicious shooting stars.
Just the dull post-war orange
of the cheap wainscoting
eclipsed by the vastness
grazing him off his guard.
After gagging . . . retching . . .
rising above the humiliating
stench of his own misery, asking
me . . . “What do you need?”
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