Issue 161, Spring 2002
with his death, the entire satellite base
draped in black garlands, even the old
soda machine outside the commissary. Someone's
wrapped bunting around two elderly airplanes,
display pieces that haven't flown in twenty-five
years, military remnants that never rust
in endless desert. Just a few years ago
I drove eighty-five miles from Phoenix
twice a week to teach a composition class.
During breaks, soldiers gathered outside
in the heat, scanning the flat sky. Then one night
someone said goddamn military cops while
he sharpened a pencil and three students
nearly jumped the table. Out in the hallway,
he tapped my chest, said. How I love you, can't
you tell? Gin fumes drifted under my nose,
a fever breaking. Don't you see that I'm
too old for this, he asked, then cried as MPs
dragged him into the dusty shadows, his feet
kicking up little sparks. Don't forget me, he called.
Back in the narrow classroom, one young man
Explained, As the highest ranking military person here,
I offer apologies. The entire force is dishonored.
I've heard the Space Sky Motel in town offers
the Republican Special, two nights in the Barry M.
Goldwater suite for $29-95, plus continental breakfast.
Always I wanted to shout my parents told me he was
the enemy each time I pulled up to the guardhouse and
the soldier said. Present ID and get out of the car.