Sandra Beasley

On the Route 7 strip

next to the office supply store

next to the pool supply store

next to the Tower Records

next to the TJ Maxx

was the Ranger Surplus,

where I shopped only

at the edges: iron-on patches,

all-weather lighters,

vintage tin pin-ups,

never venturing into the groin

of camouflage and camping gear,

until I began buying

weapons: a mace, a chained flail,

several throwing stars, and the book

Contemporary Surveillance Techniques

with its cover showing a man

crouched in an upright stereo,

all gifts for my father,

because what do you get the man

who has everything — and by everything

I mean a large-caliber shell casing

upright and decorative

in the living room, where you might

expect a potted ficus to be —

and these, too,

were the years he gave me

t-shirt after t-shirt, souvenirs

of every posting and deployment,

including the one that said

Hard Rock Cafè Baghdad —

Closed — Kuwait, Now Reopening —

t-shirts that fit poorly

over my new breasts, boxy,

unflattering, and so I shut them

away in drawers again

and again, each of us

trying to say to the other

I see you,

the way a man with closed eyes

takes the tail into his hands

to see the elephant.


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