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.