THE FEW, THE BRAVE, THE PROUD
“Tough it out,” my father used to say
whenever I suffered an injury.
Softball season was an especially
vulnerable time. I learned to nurse bruises,
ice them down, suffer aches in silence.
I wanted to make him proud, my father,
a former Marine who never spoke of the
lives he saw spilled on Iwo Jima’s sands.
I endured my injuries: cuts from garden hoes,
barbs from fishing hooks, skating accidents.
“It’s just a nick,” he said while doctors stitched
my leg, my foot, my eye. I toughed it out.
Later, I thought I should have been so angry—
how could he have asked so much of his child?
Only now I realize just how much tougher
I should have been: all those nights he sat
in darkness, weathered hands clasping his
squared-off Chivas glass, the tinkle of ice the
only sound in his world. Why wasn’t I strong enough
to sit beside him? To ask questions about his ghosts,
those specters he could never shake off.