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Wednesday, October 12, 2005


by Rochelle Ratner

Because he wants to. Actually, he'd briefly considered
hopping out. He'd considered becoming a stunt man,
maybe someone shot out of a cannon like the Quaker Oats
soldiers. Except the metal plate in his head intolerably
echoes even the sound of breathing. No one seems to care
about the circus these days, just as no one cares what
happens in Iraq. Or rather, what happens to people in Iraq.
Little American boys in G. I. Joe outfits carrying toy rifles.
The recruiter never told him this would happen. His
mother tugged at his jacket, trying to keep her with him,
promising to get a second, even a third job. Not wanting
her to see this proof that he should have listened, he
crouched for three days in a cornfield near the house.
When you come right down to it, he's owed this leg. It's
been fitted and refitted, so it's almost comfortable for a few
hours at a time. There was no other way, short of crawling.
Or maybe getting a crutch and dirty coffee cup and leaning
against a building two or three towns away where no one
knows his family. But yes, he just walked off. And he didn't
walk, he ran.

Rochelle Ratner's books include two novels: Bobby's Girl (Coffee House Press, 1986) and The Lion's Share (Coffee House Press, 1991) and sixteen poetry books, including House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003) and Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, October 2005). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage: