My father awoke blind at age seven, casualty of a viral infection. With his sight restored six weeks later, lessons had been etched in his vision. When his children were born, he added names as rich as chocolate over cream: Joy, the eldest, was his Piggy; Laurene he called Boosie; Duckle Dunn he dubbed me.
Sometimes I thought we were as feeble as Chinese maidens, foot-bound to home, yet when he broke his ankle, he filled his days as my playmate, trimming paper dolls to please me. He didn’t intend to cripple, spent himself in ways my mother couldn’t imagine.
What later disabled his dreams, birthed his despair? Phone calls to beg orders for the oysters he peddled after his business failed? Brothers who betrayed by siphoning customers? How I learned to resent his failures: the overdue rent, unpaid bills. Only grief when he died could stir me to see.
The wild rose summer’s flower along the fading path grows sweet though it only lives & dies to itself & spring’s unseen trilliums in forest shade are lost only to us if the haste of our lives won’t let us pass Such flamboyance draws things on delicate wings & never goes to waste though like grass soon withering
The scientist in lab coat or hip-waders knows to seek meaning in what he observes The poet suspects the right metaphors await her astir in stream glisten afloat in pond stillness asleep in forest glade for nature makes nothing in vain Colour & camouflage ash & flame seem ready to re-ignite as we listen
Michael Izbicki grew up in a nondenominational church in California. A National Merit Scholarship finalist, he chose to go to the U.S. Naval Academy out of a sense of duty to his country during a time of war. At the naval academy he began to doubt whether the career to which he had committed himself could be squared with the tenets of just war doctrine. He got in trouble when he responded no to this exam question: "If given the order, would you launch a missile carrying a nuclear warhead?" After a four-year legal battle, the navy discharged him as a conscientious objector. Izbicki may have to reimburse the service for part or all of his education (New York Times, February 22).