Grace on Thee
Vietnam, skinny Alvin carried an M60 machine gun weighing
25 pounds and humped over a thousand miles. I remember his
letters from the big base at Chu Lai, where his battalion
stayed when not in the field. He always made it sound like
he was having a party over there, but then would slip in
how all he wanted to do when he got home was go fishing
under some shade at Marble Lake, like he did regularly as
a kidwhich for him meant before he was drafted into
this time, he would add, to make the point he wasnt
a kid any more, I think Ill bring some beer
with me, and a girl . . . like maybe Janet. I remember
that letter especially, that mention of Janet.
were a few more letters after that one, and then his mom,
over in Kinderhook, called and told me Alvin had got
himself hurt and would be coming home from a hospital
in Japan in a month or two. Home to stay, she
said. My little boy . . .
lived with his mom in Kinderhook until she died just a few
years ago. Now he lives at a place called Parkland, over
in Coldwater, where he has a room and some independence,
and where on most fair-weather days you can find him there
in a leafy green place thick with elderberry bushes and
and I make a point to visit Alvin about once a month; they
wont allow us to bring him any beer. We do it anyway,
because we love him.
summer day . . .
launching worms into the pond,
a boy with a stick