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?