The Adirondack Review
My Grandfather Thinks He's In WWII, Germany

My Grandfather thinks he's
In World War II, Germany but he's in Houston, 2001.
Don't you know there's a war going on?
Grandpa said, head bent over the plate.
There is too much food on this plate.
He moves his arms slowly, the air is water he is wading,
And begins to eat piece by piece.

His left leg shakes occasionally,
Like a thought that comes out of nowhere and disappears.
While he eats, he tells me of the glow of the fire,
Crimson, aching, present, as his father molds the horseshoes
In his workshop seventy years ago.

That was so good, Miss, he says,
As he takes my arm to leave the kitchen.
His arms are thin and hard like branches,
Holding on to a tree against the wind.

At Christmastime, he used to swing me in the air in thick, weighted arms
Again and again until my screams of delight turned to cries,
Smother me against his chest, the musky folds of him
That smelled of beer and chicken.
He chuckled every time, from somewhere deep inside,
As I squirmed trying to breathe under his tight arms, and felt warmed
By the noises that thundered from the cave of his giant chest.   

Outside he sat on a sagging lawn chair,
His thin legs set in straight, military-like style, ready, waiting.
I rest my hand on his shoulder;
There is a war going on, he tells me.


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LESLIE CONTRERAS is a poetry student in the Warren Wilson College MFA program. Her poetry is forthcoming from Glass: A Journal of Poetry. She lives in Houston, Texas.
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poemsThe St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poemsThe St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems