The first few weeks were hard,
adjusting to the kitchen life.
I must’ve wanted to quit a hundred times,
my hand taking apron off
and my feet marching
the rest of my body to the back door.
there stood a mountain of a man
between me and the door,
always saying the same thing.
“Are you deserting, private?
Going back into the jungle?”
He’d open the door.
“Just hope you weren’t thinking of leaving without saying good-bye.”
Each time I’d stop;
tying my apron back on.
“Just goin’ to have a smoke, sir,
guess now’s not the time”
and quickly returning to dish.
The work was hard and consuming.
I wasn’t used to such hours
and continuous labor,
living in the streets.
My hands and arms told the story;
the scars telling of my exploits in battle,
as the sue chef would tell me
when he drove me to the park
I slept in at nights.
My mother would’ve told me
they were just scars
showing my carelessness;
however, my mother wasn’t here.
There was only this mountain of a man,
who, in the kitchen everyone called Sarge.
He rattled on insanely
about Charlie, napalm, and ‘Nam ,
my father would chatter about
in his drunken stupor.
Each time Sarge dropped me off,
“I’ve an extra room. No charge.
Hell, you could even take a shower by yourself.
What a concept.”
Each time I declined,
opened the door, got out of the car,
waited for him to drive off,
than sauntered into the bushes,
until I found my sleeping bag
and retreated into sleep.
I hated the city,
It bore down on me like a living beast;
it’s breath rotten and stagnant,
decomposing in it’s own fecal matter.
It’s roar’n’screams were relentless.
I don’t belong in the city;
I needed trees, mountains, and the stars
not telephone poles, street lights and high rises.
His offer was always tempting.
It was like a huntress
trying to coerce me into her arms,
“Be weary of a white-man’s gifts,”
my father once lectured me.
“It only means they’re after something.”
I escaped into sleep,
scared and dead quiet,
pleading with my father
wherever he might be,
this man was different,
this brother warrior,
he’d walked a different path than the others.
my father was not here to guide me;
he had chosen a road called whiskey
and left without me.
And my mother, neither was she here.
She, my loving mother,
who had broken the rules of being a society girl
by marring a red skin at her own advice,
certainly not her father’s.
As much as I’d hate to admit.
My grandfather was right,
my father couldn’t conform
to the Euro/Roman way.
It didn’t mean he was uncivilized;
he was taught to live by different laws
and talks to god in different ways.
He attempted to defeat the dark side
by joining with it,
only to be succumbed by it,
making me an exile,
teacherless in a vile world.
I could never forgive him for that.
Everything I’ve learned
has been learned the hard way,
by my own mistakes, anguish,
bile and by all the books I’ve read.
So I allowed that mountain of a man,
called Sarge into my life,
he became my friend and teacher.
And father he helped me
not follow in your path.