Drew Attana

after Yusef Komunyakaa’s Facing it
and my father’s service

I held my mother
by her ring finger
as she recited coping strategies
she’d read in pamphlets
         how to act,
    how to respond,
how to make them feel safe,
in a situation like this—
my father slumped
against the black stone,
scrolling the names of boys
caught in rivers of mud,
and inside helicopter remains,
weeping because his name
wasn’t among theirs, though
he’d never left the jungle.
Now, I’m the man,
old enough to pay my bills,
to hurt loved ones;
old enough to retrace
family vacations and scan
those fifty-eight thousand names,
but grasp only one
as we move onto
another monument,
another museum,
a name not etched
into the reflected faces
of gawking families,
a reminder that every time
my father put me
on his shoulders
at air shows,
and in the deep end of pools,
I was held there by a ghost.