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Lesson

by
 It was 1963 or 4, summer,
and my father was driving our family
from Ft.
Hood to North Carolina in our 56 Buick.
We'd been hearing about Klan attacks, and we knew Mississippi to be more dangerous than usual.
Dark lay hanging from the trees the way moss did, and when it moaned light against the windows that night, my father pulled off the road to sleep.
Noises that usually woke me from rest afraid of monsters kept my father awake that night, too, and I lay in the quiet noticing him listen, learning that he might not be able always to protect us from everything and the creatures besides; perhaps not even from the fury suddenly loud through my body about his trip from Texas to settle us home before he would go away to a place no place in the world he named Viet Nam.
A boy needs a father with him, I kept thinking, fixed against noise from the dark.

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