Merry Christmas From Easy Company, The Boys Of Bastogne

Last night, just Mom and Dad and I had a Christmas get together at Mom’s apartment (she moved out recently, some kind of ‘trial separation’ but nobody is talking about what things ‘are’). Dad asked in the car on the way there, ‘what are we going to talk about?” We ended up talking about their fathers. Mom’s Dad. Dad’s Dad. They were both in WWII. I am sure it was mentioned before, but I never realized, my Grandpa on Mom’s side was drafted at age 17. I never met my Dad’s father. Mom kept saying she never liked him. But I wrote a poem recently about a story Dad told me, about how irrational and perhaps violent he was, but the poem, which I had them both read last night, was maybe about how people come out of situations that are madness and trouble and put the pieces of themselves into the folds and fissures of impossibility. It was about how Dad isn’t that, and how things are always changing. And how hardship isn’t there just to hurt. Which is a naive wish for what the season could mean. A daft hope and a light that refuses to be swallowed by darkness. But something, I know. Something that gives me strength to appreciate what I have. And something that makes me stronger to face what inevitably comes next, to beat the shit out of me tomorrow.

Why I feel equal parts I am learning to not say things that I feel but don’t help, or rather things that don’t add but add noise to the conversation, or a fear that I am simply going mute, going silent, about a youthful desperation that existed only in noise and anger and resistance. I am full of a kind of clarifying rage. I am a crucible. And I dare myself each day to come out more, gold, less, dross. It makes no sense at all but I fathom the deep with a heart of shimmering eyes. I long for hot cocoa in the midst of the coldest, longest battles of the war. I remain human.

Here’s the poem I wrote. A Christmas gift for my Dad, and Mom, and I suppose, for you. To let them know I’m still trying.

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