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  • After the War, I got married.

    It was 1942, and I had polio. It was 1942, and I had polio and my skin might as well have been red, white, and blue. There was a call for sweat, there was a call for blood, there was a call for metals, and there was a call for men like me, who still only occupied the space of a boy. We were all men who lived in worlds of crushes and bugs and puddles and tree climbing and records and formals and films and cars and baseball. We were all men who thought that we wouldn’t mind the taste of blood—that it would be like a lovingly made cheese sandwich, or a glass of lemonade under the hot sun which, as far as I was concerned, still revolved around the earth.

    I remember not especially thinking about it. I remember putting on a pair of rubber boots and limping down Main Street to the recruiting station. I remember my left leg not feeling as short as it actually was. My boots were rubber because it looked as though General Lee was leading a lost, scattershot, Confederate army across the sky, bearing artillery and preparing to shower me with drops from old, rusty rain guns. I had no bullets. The wet, backwards flack rained down from above, and it splashed up neatly on my boots. Ants were driven along the cracks in the sidewalk, and back underground. I could never figure this out as I always assumed that their perfect little tunnels would become flooded. Perhaps they were doing the world a favor by dying underground. As the water in the puddles rose I felt as though I was gaining my sea leg. My sea leg on this boat of land whose origin was no longer known to me.

    I reached for the handle on the glass door. It seemed to dangle from the cracked brick building of my destination. Why had I left a lawn with an apple tree that smelled sweet in the summer rain for a few broken rocks that some engineer had managed to stack in such a way as to support a singular glass door? I saw myself reflected in all my wonderful splendor of galoshes, tattered slacks, and my father’s oversized overcoat. I looked the part of a pauper who had found himself the simplest new house, but was too lonely to make it home. I removed the coat and placed it underneath a mailbox. Affixed to it was an imaginary stamp to get it across the Atlantic, where perhaps it would fit me.

    I filled out the paper work like George Washington Adams must have scrawled his suicide note. I failed the physical and my leg shriveled up inside of me, giving me the feeling of impotence before I had even attempted to make love.
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