Never a Big Kid
cloud of thinning steam floats in the sky behind the first jet fighter
I've ever seen flying into Kirtland Air Force base on this July day. The
wind brings nothing but dust, which clouds my beer as I sit outside a bar
on old Route 66. Albuquerque's getting bigger and they've paved dirt roads
with hot tar to accommodate the hulking automobiles of the desert rich.
My son is going to Korea and I wonder why Asia keeps popping up in my
life. I lost my brother at Iwo Jima. I didn't have to go, owing to my limp.
I drink some muddy beer and wish my son had a limp. But he's fit, and ready
to bring medals home. That's what he says, like he's twelve years old, like
he's that skinny boy with fair skin telling me he's going to play in the
World Series some day -- maybe for Brooklyn if some scout notices him on the
field and whisks him away to New York.
I saw him off at the bus station this morning, and he's still not as big as
his duffel bag. He was never a big kid. But maybe with those jet fighters
and that bomb like a thousand suns, they'll bring my boy home. Until then I
just sit and wonder how soppy, far away Asia has managed to find me in this
desert corner toying with my life like a trickster god.
First published: August 1999