My dad called to let me know Great Uncle Wallace died today. When I was a kid and we visited my grandparents in their tiny town in Tennessee, he and my Great Aunt Mary always came to visit us. He wore overalls every single time I ever saw him, and he always had a 2 dollar bill for me and one for my brother. I used to try and save them as the special thing they were, but usually my brother and I would spend them on gum or a Coke or stickers or some other nonsense. That’s probably what he wanted, but I always felt a little guilty anyway. He survived a German POW camp in WWII. He said he watched many of his fellow soldiers die because they weren’t used to working so hard, but that he’d really never known anything different, so just kept getting by. Not that it was easy - it was awful. But he could do it when so many others just couldn’t. A long time after my Great Aunt Mary died, he started “visiting” with the eligible ladies in town. My dad said he never really settled on one because each lady offered something a little different; good pie here, a laugh over there; a nice hand hold down the road.
He lived a full life and our family was lucky to have him as a beloved member. I wish him peace on this next leg of his journey.
by Claire Wahmanholm
There’s a burr buried in my brain’s wool,
abiding as a radar blip, and culling’s no good
because of this haywire bit (I’m slowly going it),
losing my grip on my lips, all that tip-
of-the-tongue business, plus this bouquet
of aphasias and -lalias that I can’t shake,
never mind the stick.
And soon it’s not just that,
but this, this something else, this sticking
of gears, this mile of pulled stitches that ravels
out of my ear, this tear that comes from nowhere,
this fritz, this hitch, this itch that won’t quit,
that begets the grains of something like regret
and sows them everywhere.