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The weatherboards built years earlier across the street were ex-Army:

the hard-drinking Sergeant who’d have fistfights with his sons,

the captain who wept for grief when his own son joined up,

knowing the rumblings and gauntlets he could expect,

the guy on the corner who used a huge Army knife to skin rabbits,

then hung their pelts on a wall in his garage; and their wives,

who queued at the bread van in curlers and housecoats

but, most astonishing of all, kept both chewies and ciggies revolving

together around sitreps and local weather reports. 

            But not once,

as I turned up on their porches and their screen doors squeaked open

to me holding a card with a space for their signatures,

its incomprehensible Old Testament script

about poor Jewish orphans

and a little plastic bag for coins,

not once in the streets of that suburb where my parents’ ark

had come to rest, not once

was I ever received with words that lacerated,

with anything less than good cheer.  Even those who gave nothing

closed their doors with such a gentle regret

it seemed less a refusal than deference

to the long, dark corridors of those little bungalows

to which they returned,

called back to the greater mystery of their sheds.

Meniscus, November 2023

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