Less of Him, Less of Us
His long limbs lend the perception of more than five eleven
as he glides across the lawn and measures the rain in a rusted
gauge. This cavalry man on a Deere mows along memorized
lines, making checkerboard rows as he imagines animals
inhabit the clouds. He dabs at his sweat with an old bandana
folded into a triangle and rides into the pulsing sun.
It’s been seven years of him on my mind, and each chat
with a man his age is a blessing and a curse, a study
in weathered veins. He hailed from a generation pushed
into a permanent stoop by the weight of their days, people
whose courage bloomed on beachheads and over Dresden
earning them full-dress parades and dances in tickertape rain.
He framed a home across his shoulders and laid the bricks
in soldiers’ rows, pressed the trowel until his palms bled,
mixing the mortar with a human stain. He trembled, or nodded,
over breakfast as he recalled the children of Japan and the way
he tried to use a pocket full of Hershey’s bars to sweeten the deal.
Perched on the porch he scanned the summer sky for threats
to the flag hung high on the pole where it chattered in the wind
until his heart—rent beyond repair—gave up guarding the most
orderly place any of his drifting tribe has ever known.
by D.E. Kern
Editor’s Note: The long lines and conversational tone of this poem lead the reader into memory—and when you lose someone, you often discover that the stories they told you become as real as your own memory of the person. The title of this poem is particularly apt, given how diminished one can feel with loss.