We were criminals

Willard’s great Uncle Carl had died the night before
& that same night my own Aunt Pat
Who had raised me from nine years on, passed..
Willard’s great uncle Carl had raised
Willard’s Dad & his Uncle Buck,
Both of these men had dropped from black night sky
Into Normandy, as paratroopers to liberate France

Thirteen days later my father drove a tank
onto the Norman beach for same purpose

& they all made it back, after putting fear
In the hearts of Hitler’s supermen,
Willard senior to fall timber all his life
& Buck to run his cows every summer
In the High Cascades, my father drilled oil wells

We’d somehow met up that night &
With differently the same kind of memories
& grief in our hearts we drank beer,
With our pizza at a parlor, that had been a pasture
Back in high school

Cops came in later & thought
Our demeanor somehow unfit
& being new & not knowing us as locals decided
We were criminals,
This decision struck both of us
As remarkable & when
The cops followed us into the restroom
As we were departing
We had words with them..
& we were not kind
& left them bristling as we
Got into Willard’s old ’59 Chevy
With its sideways teardrop tail lights

I told Will, ‘ We’ve not seen the last of these pricks,’
We were 70s hippies then, & I hid our pot deep
Under the car seat when we left the parking lot

One mile out of town they pulled us over,
Spot-light on us & a bullhorn
Ordering us out of the car..
I could hear the tremolo of a wavering voice
Behind the blinding light & over the
Baseness of the bull horn &
Over the roof of the car,
I loudly told Will to move slowly..
As I knew they had guns on us..
& they did..

Fifteen  years later I’d been hunting ducks
With Willard’s brother Greg on Nygren’s Reservoir
& afterwards we went to the old homestead,
That his Uncle Carl had left
Only shortly before His death
& the old family farm had since sold to a cattle company,
& cattle men had not gotten around to razing the place
& no one had lived there in that time
Pots & pans still hung on a wall
Above the wood cook stove, & the old man’s long johns
Creased with 20 years of gravity hung in the bedroom
From the hook in the wall
& a dusky-footed wood rat had mounded
A large four-foot high stick nest
That covered all of Greg & Willard’s old Uncle Carl’s bed, &
Golden light diffused through the old house that fall afternoon
& the long empty bedroom, with a few pictures &
A calendar on the wall from 1965
Lit up from  light though a window pane beside the bed

& yes, the cops were afraid of us that night
Thirty-six years ago..

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