Self-Portrait with Scissors, Lawn, & Someone’s Father just Home from Viet Nam

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.

About Andrew Shattuck McBride

I am a writer, editor, writing coach, and consultant. I work in a variety of genres, including poetry, short stories, and creative non-fiction. I also have a couple of novels simmering on back burners. THANK YOU to Nan Macy of Village Books for taking this photo (June 2011).
This entry was posted in Andrew Shattuck McBride Writer, Can We Talk?, Samples. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Self-Portrait with Scissors, Lawn, & Someone’s Father just Home from Viet Nam

  1. tsena says:

    Andy, this is raw and potent. wow. I would like to talk about it more. thank you for sharing. this is good stuff.

    • Thank you Tsena.

      Sure. Jennifer and I emailed back and forth about it, and I answered her questions.

      Curiously, this set of memories wasn’t in a vault; I just hadn’t put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard about it. It took me a long time.

      Writing is my therapy.

      I’m looking forward to your next poem!

      Thanks again, Andy

      • tsena says:

        i agree, writing is good therapy. i have been chatting with a few folks about that very concept…what do you mean, it wasn’t in a vault? i like your work, these are powerful memories and words ….my most recent poem is my new personal tag line… 😉

      • Well, this happened when I was about eight or nine–a long time ago. It wasn’t in a vault, hidden away in a corner of my mind. It has been available to me to write about for a long time, and I finally did write about it.

        Thank you, I’m grateful. I admire your work.

        Yes, I’ve read it. Be careful around the sun!

      • tsena says:

        oh, i think i understand; it sounds like one of those personal defining memories that needs to be opened and set free, is that right?
        as for the sun, its too late for me…already incinerated. 😉 i would love your comments on it, i have been practicing a rather dramatic reading of it!

      • Writing about it has allowed me to tell more of my story, and has allowed me some additional healing.

        I can let it go now.

        I always hope that what I write will help others toward telling their stories and nudge them closer to what needs healing in their lives.

        Certainly. I’ll take a look and email, OK?

        All the best, Andy

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