I call the old soldier,
who knew my late father in the war.
Oh yes, he says, when he finally picks up,
your dad operated on me, saved my life
in the prison camp, China, 1943.
Today I’m ninety-five,
you’ve caught me in the car,
on my way to a gambling day,
playing craps with friends.
Good for the adrenaline,
as your good dad would say.
After we hang up, I see adrenaline
and nitroglycerine, the vials he kept
in his black leather bag, worn thin
at the sides. I smell the slight
antiseptic tang, and his laugh
comes through too: tight,
forced as his gripping hands.
Good, he was a doctor,
and not a Kamikaze, good he saved lives,
though he lost me, like Gretel,
looking for crumbs in a dark forest,
looking for the good in him, the good
everyone else seems to see.
Editor’s Note: This narrative poem uses the title to introduce the reader to the narrator’s imperfect knowledge of her father, with all its emotional difficulties.