One bite gone & her dull look, her dodge to avoid exposed details

or touch, no feeling in her balled-up fingers threading through the warped

ring formed by his beleaguered arm, the one not gripping the mealy dog as if

it were a severed limb. The soldier - he’s captured in this photo in

camouflage, both breasts patched & ARMY broadcast on his chest

in stitches. Would this be my father

had my own not vanished that year, to Gabarone, to the papayas & black

mamba the school children knocked from a jackalberry to the Kalahari floor, circling

and shouting Mista! Mista! they danced to avoid the coffin-shaped head

that darted at their feet then disappeared down a hole.

My dad - he came with kerosene & poured it in the earth

dropped a match & the mamba crawled out & died

on fire at the hands of a confused pacifist.

If not Africa, then what? Then

would my young father - like the Young Soldier - have stared tastelessly, drug

entrails in his eyes & looked lost, a harbinger for other slack-fingered fighters

& would my mother like His Girlfriend - only have been able to offer

to him, a pose, her burnished bangles & one numb fist?