This Moment: 10:45 May 28,2012

Memory is a shoeless stranger staring right through you, as if you were a ghost standing on the pavement in the bright sunshine without a shadow to remind you that the world is made of light and darkness. From the other room a woman is singing over applause for her mama to cradle her again. This day of remembering will be over soon. It was a day of contrasts. I listened to a program where a man's deep voice stated that Americans don't have skin in the game, that a volunteer army of soldiers fight our wars while the rest of us shop at the mall. It is the truth. I laid peonies on my uncle's grave early this morning. He died at twenty-one for a sack full of lies in a war that brought that flaccid institution of monarchy crashing into the sea. It was the last feudal war. I wonder what he believed. The Beastie Boys are grating a discordant mix called sabotage, yet I am too comfortable wrapped in my blanket to get up and close the door on them. The cat voices her complaints from the top stair. Yesterday I wept as a man sang my country's anthem. I was surrounded by men and women in uniform, all of them saluting the flag. All of them have skin in the game. The house is silent save for the hum of the air pushing through the vents. I listened to another program in which men and woman stated their names, the number of tours served, and the reasons they were turning in their medals and refusing to serve another. All of them had skin in the game. I placed a vase of iris and peonies on my father-in-law's grave. He lost a leg to a Nazi Panzer shell. He bled into the cold French soil for three days until a medical unit could reach him. The old dog is resting next to me, her breathing deep and even. My own father served at the end of the second of the world's wars and was witness to what humans are capable of inflicting on each other. A train is passing through the darkness, its low whistle echoing against the mountains. We are all fragile beings made of flesh and bone.

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