From American Life in Poetry

 Here’s Carol V. Davis of Los Angeles, pitching horseshoes with an admiral. This poem is from her most recent book, Because I Cannot Leave This Body, from Truman State University Press.

Admiral Nimitz

Every day in summer I’d cross the border;
he’d nod, pick up the horseshoes,
hand me one, triple the size
of my palm, and say, You first. We’d play
away the afternoon. Few words
punctuated the clank of horseshoe
against stake, until the fog rolled in
and I’d retrace my steps home.
I was five or six; he, white haired,
however old that meant.

One evening my father sat me down,
spoke in the exaggerated tone
adults adapt for children, asked
if I knew who he was.
Admiral Nimitz, of course, though
I knew nothing of his command
of the Pacific Fleet and was less impressed
than if he’d landed a horseshoe.

He was a calm man, a useful attribute
for sending young men to their deaths.
The only time I saw him upset,
raccoons had invaded from their hideouts
in the hills, attacked the goldfish in his pond,
leaving muddy footprints as they escaped.
As far as I knew, this was his only de

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About Katherine

I like poetry and history
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