My father carefully rolls his pant leg up, places his leg between two wide boards. He tells my mother to jump hard on it. Crippled, he won’t be drafted. They agree. Earlier, he had considered hiding under the living room’s wooden floor boards, but that would make him feel less of a man and more like an opossum, paralyzed, blind. And weren’t they known for their short lives? Hadn’t his friend, Ihor, just the day before, avoided enlistment by drinking a vial of his wife’s blood spewing it past his cup of urine? Could he, too, do it: drive a truck, heave honey, blow grits, trade his rugged for ralph, blow on his thumb until he passed out? No, he was no greenhead looking for blood meal. He had a wife, and they were in this together. She springs from their horsehair filled couch, eyes closed tight, fingers plugging her ears; she lands with a thump. The leg doesn’t break. Father rolls away from her, screaming, holds his hand up as if to strike the air. Hysterical, she sobs through his curses. Forgiving her slight body, he slowly closes his hand, lowers it over his heart.
Dzvinia Orlowsky, Pushcart Prize recipient and Founding Editor of Four Way Books, is the author of four poetry collections published by Carnegie Mellon University Press including Convertible Night, Flurry of Stones, co-winner of the 2010 Sheila Motton Book Award. Her first collection, A Handful of Bees, was reprinted in 2008 as a Carnegie Mellon University Classic Contemporary. Her translation from Ukrainian of Alexander Dovzhenko’s novella, The Enchanted Desna, was published by House Between Water Press in 2006. She teaches at the Solstice Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing of Pine Manor College, and her newest poetry collection, Silvertone, is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon in 2013.