One of the kids told me
our father will be home
from Viet Nam today.
We have to cut the lawn
help us here are some scissors
& set me to work at the grass
of a small front yard.
I’d like to say that it seemed odd,
that I asked about their lawn mower.
Instead, on hands & knees I attacked
the grass with household scissors
wanting to help, wanting
to lay the groundwork for this return.
He drove up, got out of the car, saw
me there. I remember his anger
& how I didn’t understand why
he was so angry. You go home now
he said, & gathered his kids
& wife & his nightmares to himself.
I trudged home.
Soon enough, I visited other kids’
yards & homes rarely & then not
at all. This is how I learned wanting
to help could be put on display,
could be exhibited for amusement.
This is how I learned that welcoming
home wouldn’t be for me.
Andrew Shattuck McBride
September 16, 2012
True story. I must have been 8 or 9.