My father folds himself
into a Plexiglas bubble
twenty thousand miles above the sea.
In his pocket two photographs,
one of my mother, one of me,
talismans against the wump-wump
of explosions, the rattle of shrapnel
hitting his plane.
He locks his thumbs on the Browning,
swings it three hundred sixty degrees.
See how the bullets shine
on their way to their targets?
Enemy planes drop from the sky
with screams that die
only when silenced by the sea.
For the rest of his life my father
screams in his sleep.
He swears he can’t remember his dreams.
Judith Kelly Quaempts poetry and short stories have appeared in print and online in Poeming Pigeon, Ariel Chart, Persimmon Tree, and Windfall, and Diane Lockward’s Crafty Poet II. She has written two novels, A Place Called Winter and A Creek Named Sorrow.