Fill in the blanks.
Austrian Polish Jew
sent to Boston,
all her family die in Auschwitz.
Mother meets father,
black and Native Indian, he says,
living in Harlem.
Mother and father have a child, me,
Born in Sydenham Hospital,
Bronx, New York.
Father and mother live
Mother lives with boyfriend.
Mother having difficult time
taking care of child.
A few months after the birth,
child is taken from mother,
given to father and new
young black wife.
Mother is never mentioned
Current parents have other children.
One sister like me, born before me.
A son is born 5 months after me.
They say, me and he are twins.
Same clothing, same classes,
different composures and
So, we are twin brothers,
with a bunch of sisters.
In Junior High School, 8th grade,
there is a knock on the door.
Miss Turner steps outside,
returns, and asks me to
step outside, so I do.
She closes the door
A short white woman is there,
holding a young girl’s hand.
“I am your mother. Let’s talk”.
I jolt down the stairs and home.
My parents say she is a disturbed
woman that has accosted other kids.
End of story.
I fracture a clavicle,
in the bicycle accident.
It needs an urgent surgery.
While recuperating at home,
on the 13th floor, in our housing
project apartment, my friend Joe
comes down and asks that I go up
and play with him and his brother Jim.
I remember thinking ‘Why?’
The white woman is there.
I panic and run downstairs,
hide and cry, out of control.
The woman bangs on the door,
“I want to see my son right now”.
My angry mother shouts through the door,
“Get out of here or we’ll call the police.”
The woman finally leaves us alone.
End of story.
I get the token in the mail.
You will be drafted into the Army.
My shoulder injury is not healed yet,
but I want to get away from a dull life.
In Basic Training the weight of the rifle
sling keeps numbing my arm and hand,
but that is going to be our private secret.
In Fort Carson, CO., I train to be a tank crewman,
and volunteer for Vietnam, to get there even faster.
Third week into Vietnam, we are in a firefight with the VC,
on the Green Line, in An Khe, the 1st Air Cav home base.
They send me to my permanent unit, the 5/22 Artillery.
Because of my experience with tank machine guns,
my first job is riding shotgun on ammo convoys.
After a few deadly mishaps of doing that,
I join a 175 Self-Propelled gun crew,
as the #2 man, pulling the tail.
Vietnam is first time for sex, for drugs, for witnessing
dying and death , for engaging in horrors on men,
women and much younger folk (instant tears),
for racism between whites and others,
and that first letter from my mother.
Amalia Rosenfeld is her given name. She has changed it
to Mimi Field at Ellis Island. Wow. I have an exotic mom
is my initial feeling, but that changes after the second
letter. She says she is Jewish, and their children
follow the mother’s faith. Everything explodes
in my head with that detailed revelation.
[a Back story.
My dad had what he called ‘the gift of gab’.
He talked, and people listened, and he was
always talking, when he wasn’t drinking.
The books on our shelves were Socialist
pamphlets and writings by Karl Marx,
Marcus Garvey and other prominent
speakers of that tumultuous period.
We kids were made to watch United Nations proceedings
on TV, in the early 60’s. Dad and Ma never sat with us,
so we tickled each other, and laughed very quietly.
Dad’s memorable longterm philosophy was Jews and Niggers
(African Americans only) were the worst people on the planet.
His reasons were numerous. His hatred of Jews had me hating
the Hasidic Jews, living on the lower floors, just because I did.
I didn’t look like others in the family, so had no concerns of being
a Nigger(African American only), or a Jew. I became an observer
of others, not actually being any other, but feeling what others
experienced, until I fell back into a little man, in his little quiet
Mimi says she is Jewish, meaning this thing I hate so much
is inside me. Can others see it? I flip out and apply to Warrant
Officer School, to be a chopper pilot. I past the test but my eyesight
is too poor. I ask to be transferred to become a chopper gunner, but
the unit is short manned and needs me on the gun, in the battery, now.
We continue writing, and I begin to correspond with her other children also,
fathered by other black men. When I get out inOctober, 1968, I visit them all
for a time. Mimi has a major stroke shortly afterwards, and that is that.
We all stay in touch for a few years.
After returning from Vietnam, I am even more introverted, than I had
been before going. The day I arrive home, the uniform comes off.
I get home alone, to Flower Power, a distant family, no friends
(military or otherwise), a dismissive Veterans Administration,
and episodes of knowing others are out to harm or kill me.
End of Part 1
The Ongoing Recovery Road. [May be]
Folks, I just got tired of writing all this heavy stuff.
I am in relationship with only two siblings,
with no clue where/if some others are.
There, that averted any questions.
I don’t know poem,
from happy home.
I tap what shows up
and every body feels
in the right place
at the right time.
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