Wild Goose Poetry Review, No 34, Spring 2018
MY FATHER RETURNS FROM THE WAR
Unscathed. No missing limbs.
No bronze stars. No night sweats.
No flashbacks. No war stories.
In fact, he doesn’t talk about his Army
life at all, which is highly unusual
because my father loves to talk.
He leaves his students speechless
as he recites by heart the entire
works of Shakespeare and Poe.
Over the loudspeaker at the rodeo,
he announces which cowboys
bucked, roped and won the money.
In a long white beard, he loves
telling his customers the author,
title and plot of every book in his store.
A simple: How are you?
is an excuse to complain.
Migraines, arthritis, sinus.
Mother says he never talks about the war
because he never picked up a gun,
just a spatula and a frying pan.
She never asks why he receives
a monthly Army check until
he never awakens one morning.
That’s when we find the Purple Heart
and 1944 yellowed official letter
In a box under the bed.
Who would shoot an Army cook
who never left the kitchen? She
asks him as he sleeps in his final bed
in his black slacks and blue silk shirt,
eyes closed, hands folded across his chest.
For once, my father is silent.
Author’s Comment: This is a true story about my father, W.E. Waller, who served in the Army during World War II. He came back from the war when I was two years old and never talked about it at all. He died in 1989 and would have been 111 this year. He said he couldn’t throw a softball anymore and wore long sleeved shirts because he had no muscle in his right arm due to an injury. He never elaborated on when or how he got the injury and since he told the story of riding boxcars from Idaho to Montana where he met my mother and we saw him riding bucking broncs and Brahma bulls we suspected he got the injury from his dangerous hobbies.
Bio: Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist and grandmother who lives in the middle of the Arizona desert in an earth home built by her husband, Al. She writes poetry and takes photographs of the wildlife that visits the waterfalls and pond in her front yard, while her husband sings and plays the guitar and builds furniture out of cactus. Sharon’s work has appeared in Orange Room Review, Literary Mama and Your Daily Poem. She is the author of four chapbooks: Dancing with a Scorpion (Moon Journal Press 2006,) My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields (Flutter Press 2014), Desert Directions (2015) and They Affectionately Call Her a Dinosaur (2016).