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March 13, 2013 and all things considered

by Kate Holly-Clark

for Angelia Phillips, and other Gold Star mothers out there. Who also serve.

5475 diapers changed

and her game face is on because
today of all days
is five years to the day
her son came home
and today is another day
waiting tables and her son would have expected that
she would be doing this eternally
because mothers are eternal

2737 songs sung after a nightmare

thank you for your service
she says
to the gentleman in the retired military cap
as she takes his order
while the drumbeat sounds in her ear
like it does every year
the carefully measured steps the flag
with miliimeter precision spread
the stonefaced young men and women carrying the box
we are so sorry
we are not your son
it would be us if we could
he was one of us
this is the last and best we can do

3120 hours spent worrying weekend nights after he learned how to drive

you must be military, he says to her,
it’s the military who notice
and she smiles a little crookedly
and says
no i’m just an Army Mom.

9125 hours spent wanting to strangle him for wrangling with his siblings

thank him for his service for me
the old man says
and she escapes
into do you want coffee
and can I get you some syrup
at the other tables

438000 hours missing him since he’s gone, and counting.

On his way out, he asks her if her son is home.

They brought him home to me
five years ago today, sir, she says.
he makes it three steps

and salutes.

Kate is a jeweler, pet-mother, herbalist and storyteller living in semi-rural New Hampshire. She is the daughter of a USCG CPO 3rd Class (Ret.) and counts among her dearest friends veterans of at least three wars.

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