Shiny as wax, the cracked veneer Scotch-taped and brittle. I can't bring my father back. Legs crossed, he sits there brash with a private's stripe, a world away from the war they would ship him to within days. Cannons flank his face and banners above him like the flag my mother kept on the mantel, folded tight, white stars sharp-pointed on a field of blue. I remember his fists, the iron he pounded, five-pound hammer ringing steel, the frame he made for a sled that winter before the war. I remember the rope in his fist around my chest, his other fist shoving the snow, and downhill we dived, his boots by my boots on the tongue, pines whishing by, ice in my eyes, blinking and squealing. I remember the troop train, steam billowing like a smoke screen. I remember wrecking the sled weeks later and pounding to beat the iron flat, but it stayed there bent and stacked in the barn by the anvil, and I can't bring him back.
Walt McDonald - 1934-
The Waltz We Were Born For
I never knew them all, just hummed and thrummed my fingers with the radio, driving five hundred miles to Austin. Her arms held all the songs I needed. Our boots kept time with fiddles and the charming sobs of blondes, the whine of steel guitars sliding us down in deer-hide chairs when jukebox music was over. Sad music's on my mind tonight in a jet high over Dallas, earphones on channel five. A lonely singer, dead, comes back to beg me, swearing in my ears she's mine, rhymes set to music that make her lies seem true. She's gone and others like her, leaving their songs to haunt us. Letting down through clouds I know who I'll find waiting at the gate, the same woman faithful to my arms as she was those nights in Austin when the world seemed like a jukebox, our boots able to dance forever, our pockets full of coins.