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Thanksgiving, 1945

Hannah Aaron

He returns to her

wishbone brittle, already pulled apart.

Already the smaller piece.

His ribs are the ivory keys

of a piano, ebony

hollows in between.

Her fingers play across them

to his metronome breath, press

the scars, the phantom stitches.

Dance away from the inflamed

incision—the doctors

can’t seem to whip the infection.

A symphony whirls

in his head of screams

and prayers and

whirring plane engines,

of the panicked

bird call of sirens.

His blue jay eyes

are mourning doves now.

They light upon the space

just beyond her shoulder

and her hands wrap

the bandages back around

him, trace

across his face, along

the trench-lines cut

by sweat and worry and

Is this it? Is it now?

Is it now? Now? Now?

She tries to tourniquet

his thoughts, too, tries

to stem the flow

of It should have been me but

it wasn’t and I’m glad

it wasn’t but it should have been me.

She warbles to him of Lady Luck,

of Uncle Sam, of Eisenhower.

His lips crack a smile

of feathers and talons. Words

grow wings in his mouth,

flap against his tongue,

burst sparrow-like from him.

He tells her that fear

feels like lice, that lice

feel like lice, that everything

feels like lice out there.

Parasitic. Swarming.

Tells her German bullets

cry Du! Du! Du!

Tells her...tells her...tells her...

He is a cornucopia spilling

over with a soldier’s harvest.

She pats his gauzy chest,

runs fingers through his hair,

reminds him he is home.

Pulls him to his feet,

leads him to the table.

Turkey, she says.

All the fixings. 

Fall, 2018 Issue

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