for the longest time i never knew your real name- just ' grandpa medals'. those blurry damaged eerie pictures of a very old man in old fashioned collar and cuffs. those creepy follow- you- around- the- room -from- a- photo jesus/ old people eyes. tintypes. you died before i was born. i'm the only one who vists your tiny grave sliver of stone- found only because they still put a flag on it at memorial day. all that's on it besides your name is your army unit - no DOB, no DOD. i tried to find your wife's grave but can't- she doesn't seem to exist. she died in childbirth...very young. you spent your life slowly walking daily by the cemetary by the river-with your great grandchild, my mother who begged me to find her. if she's there, william- what's her name?- because she wasn't buried with yours. someone's not telling me something. william, whatever happened?
across a field in nantucket, your mother dragged you by the leg after beating you into the earth. it's a scene i watch over and over in my head. it seems so very clear to me. your great grandaughter did the same to me. when i was very young, i had nightmares about you. now i have silent menacing dreams from your grandson- glaring at me from heaven or hell or limbo. your pain screeches across my sky- out of the tempest, across all this time. of course i understand why you ran away to fight in Wilderness- just 14. we're all still running from it and in a way i run to it.
Sat in your Lap.
i didn't eat madcow hamburgers monday- i thought about you, william. thank you. i'm proud of you. now 'fess up.