The Angel Angela
While the truck still straddles the center divider
and smoke leaks from the wrecked hood of your car,
incense of brimstone fuming from your Firestones,
she arrives in her sleek two-seater, hair rising like flame
from beeswax, to press your semi-hysterical hand
to her surgically augmented breasts. Perhaps she is fresh
from taping some low-budget porno shot by an ex-,
but for now she is your guardian, shushing Death
and its goth cousin Fear long enough for you to remember
the bouquet of kisses you had set out like a wing-footed
delivery man to bestow on a human woman,
and to leave you grateful to be standing on the shoulder,
breathing its camshaft barbecue & staring at her card,
the one she gives casting directors
above her agent’s name, that immortal face and chest.
I take my father’s medals off the wall,
purple hearts, an oak-leaf cluster,
a posthumous Congressional Medal.
He had more. They weren’t his, of course,
just as now they’re not mine.
He bought them at swap meets
and studied the battles for which they were given,
mounting the somber moths in display cases,
an entomologist collecting
all the known species of heroism.
Maybe he thought these bits of ribbon and steel
would teach him how to act.
How could we not play the enemy
when every word from his mouth
pierced like shrapnel?
We were POW’s sentenced to an evening,
a weekend, a lifetime in our rooms,
listening to a tank rumble downstairs,
the ack-ack of his chain-smoking cough,
the recoil of a sneeze.
My poor father, he did it
because he loved us. I lift a bronze star
from its silken bed, kiss the chill metal,
scar which proves the wound,
what I need to remind me of him.
© 2003 Lee Rossi