You made yours from scratch no
kits for you just trips to the hobby
store for balsa paints and glue.
I’d see you sit for hours painting the last
detail onto the fuselage of a Sopwith Camel or
clipping the wings of the Spirit of St. Louis.
Though I never really saw you.
They were the quiet nights of my
childhood where I would read and
you would craft and my mother would
sit with you and the radio ballgame.
I watched those little planes line up
on the shelves wherever they’d fit little
planes carefully constructed not from kits
very rarely from kits and I’d go on the few
family outings we had to the airshows
and museums and frequent visits to
the hobby store for more paint more glue.

They were the nights the Yankees pitched to
your high and batted at your steel nerves
as you’d hoot and holler the house down
and chuckle together at the announcer’s
corny comments constructed just for you.
You know I never had an interest in those
stupid planes flying all around the house
though some were neat with the faces painted
on them. Just one more reason for you to hate me.
Only now do I realize you were stoning yourself into
our lives while sucking on the cigarettes of
desperation you brought with you we ate what you
liked to eat and went where you chose to go and
lived as you shaped our lives never seeing the danger of
the dogfight the smoke of distant thunders only the
image of a man tall and impressive courteous and
cultured not the reality of a man bent on domination spinning
wildly through our air in threaded warplanes.

Reprinted from Genesis, Volume xxxiv, Spring, 2003, Indiana University.