OUR UNCLES/US GIRLS
For all my uncles, real and imagined, who dealt with the aftermath of war; for all us girls, remembered and forgotten, who grew up with the sound of accordions in our ears.
The uncles come in from the cold
lay their rifles on the kitchen table
It is Saturday night. Snow falls –
the nudging drift of horses before they break
into a canter. Snow falls –
our mother throws a sheet into the air. Snow falls –
the war beckons through the window.
When snow doesn’t fall the uncles
bring out their accordions,
they stamp their feet, they roar with laughter
slam good-natured bodies together.
Later they lie still
as dead horses on the living room floor,
numb to our ministrations.
We straighten limbs, lay our ears to their chests,
listen for their heartbeats.
Snow falls, we run like soldiers when they stir.