She Visits Her Beastmother’s Uncle

VAHospital

by F.X. MacKenzie

He talks endlessly about “The War”–
there was only one, you know–
the one he fought in;
all the others were just spats and squabbles.

He refers to his time “Overseas”
as though it were all one country
from the tip of France to the top of Siberia:
everything outside the continental U.S. being “Them”
(godless communists and terrorists)
against “Us”
(God’s Christian soldiers, defenders of democracy).

He calls his oncologist “that colored-girl nurse”
Language that would elicit a ten-minute hellfire rant
or a swift kick in the shins
from his spitfire of a niece
if it came from the mouth of anyone else
but she tolerates him, this venomous ancestor;
she has a blind-spot fetish for old men.

“What color is she, your doctor?” she needles him,
hoping against all evidence to the contrary
that 87 is not too old to learn…
but he grunts and spits into a plastic cup
and beckons her closer to confide his suspicion
that the hospital is run by Jews.
Before she leaves, he will ask her to fetch his wallet
so he can bequeath her a dollar and a warning
about the New World Order.

 

© Copyright 2006 by F.X. MacKenzie. Republished 2013, 2015.


Header photo via Morguefile.

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