The Man Dad Brought Home from the War

Jim Gunshinan

Ed Kasanski came to our house
early on Saturday mornings
to wake me and my brothers
grumpy and silent at first.

We went fishing by the thick, brown
fast-moving Potomac
never catching anything but catfish
and feasted on baked beans

dark pumpernickel and sausages
cooked over a fire we built ourselves.
On the way back we’d stop
for Catoctin Mountain peaches

in August
or bulging chestnuts from Rock Creek Park
in the fall. One summer day
we came home, unloaded our peaches

and my sister asked Ed
to join us for dinner. He stood in the door
in the same old clothes he always wore:
his olive shirt and black boots

as old as the war
looking like the homeless man
kind people took him to be
so they handed him dollar bills

as he stood smoking a cigarette
outside the Hot Shoppes restaurant.
I don’t want to be a bother, he said.
You’re no bother, you’re family, she said.

I don’t believe he ever cried during the War.
He cried then, tears sweeter than peaches.
He tried to hide them but we saw a man
who would die knowing that he was loved.

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