Richard Baldasty

The Veteran

April, then March. The year moves backward. So go the clocks. It had been early evening. Now tocsins sound for lunch. “The maid was in the garden,” three little girls intone, “hanging out the clothes. Along came a blackbird.” Its wings flap like a portent, though nothing dire as Poe’s raven. Nevermore, that fearful name. What people call animals tells more than they know: our wounded neighbor, sorrow’s evidence, whose dog is Doom, whose cat is Mouse. When he thinks no one is around, he whispers threats to himself in a victor’s idiom. He shot all the apples from his tree before he cut it down.

Richard Baldasty, poet and collagist, lives in Spokane, Washington. During World War II, his father was stationed on the island of Tinian, the chief American base for firebombing raids on Japan.

Photo by Nathan Hulsey


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