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Greatest Hits

Fort Knox, Kentucky, 1966

Clad in green fatigues, red-faced with
103 degree fever, foam ear plugs from
the firing range still in place,

my brother half-staggers to the Falcon,
tells me he doesn’t know where the gold is,
says another degree and he’ll be in sick bay.

Twelve years old and so naïve I don’t know
why my brother and his wife want
to be left along in the motel room.

Back in the Falcon my father turns and turns
trying to find an all-night diner.
Was there, somewhere, a train’s fading whistle?

Were soldiers at that very moment changing
guard duty at the doors of great vaults?
Might their marriage have survived

had my brother’s wife conceived that night?
Unanswerable questions I plan to ask
a good novelist – or God, if given the chance.

Eighteen months later, home in Michigan,
shivering though spring is unseasonably warm,
he shows us the silk-backed dragon jacket

and a pocketful of strange-charactered coins
which might buy a night in Saigon,
or a gold Buddha made of brass.


The 1933 Chicago World's Fair

The 200 foot tall Havoline

Motor Oil Company

thermometer read 83 degrees.

 

Incongrous to that

Century of Progress

where even the smooth art deco

 

buildings were built for speed,

the Ball Canning Company

employed my mother to man

 

their booth showing various

pears and relishes

preserved in cool blue jars.

 

Center stage was Sally Rand

the woman who stole the show

(her nom de plume taken from

 

an atlas of road maps)

who danced to "Clair de Lune"

employing ony two cleverly used

 

ostrich feather fans.

In that ephemeral Byzantium

the Hall of Science unveiled

 

its glittering predictions,

the Avenue of Flags snapped in the wind,

and the Transparent Man, his organs

 

viewable as last summer's fruit,

raised his veined face and arms

as if imploring the anxiously awaited

 

future to arrive.

My mother, Elvis Dutcher, at the 1933 World's Fair.  Apparently the Sinclair Oil Company exhibit.