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Pamela McClure

–for my father

Grit on the spool and the thunder back-drop
of noise, I was up late for each reel unwrapped,
my father's voice speaking to us from a dark mangle
Of forest slipping to mudslide, a shadow-jungle
spread out, the unspooling of a week's worth
of maneuvers in Viet Nam. And I wrestled
with the dog on the carpet while my mother
turned in the lamplight, while she smoked and leaned
in listening to the strain of that unknown place.
The Times' front page was framed
on the wall, my father beckoning a helicopter to save
the blinded boy in his arms. I remember the watch face
staring out from that hero's picture, the size of his hand
reaching out as the tape wound,
as the tape flapped loose,
as the machine hummed, then stalled
into a sudden quiet.

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