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Gladys Henderson


After the war, that long year at Saint Alban’s Hospital,
weekly trips on Sunday, after church, after the Chinese
restaurant and the Moo Goo Gai Pan which reeked of garlic,
the three of us would ride in Dad’s business car, the one
he wasn't to use for anything but business, and we would cross
over the Throgs Neck Bridge making our way to Queens. 

I was twelve, prone to carsickness, but every Sunday we drove
two hours towards the city, with its traffic jams and horns; 
we knew we had arrived when we passed the statue of Marines
struggling to raise the fallen American flag, all of them reaching
with outstretched arms, as I imagined I would, when I saw you.
But that year, I wasn’t permitted to enter your room, had to wait
in the visitor’s lounge, Tuberculosis your diagnosis, couldn't take
 a chance, not with my being so young. 

It was a year before I saw you, walking towards the glass
partition, waving at me, mom and dad at your side, your thin,
white-faced body, half the size you left home with, and I reached
for you, my arms outstretched like those Marines, wanting
to right the wrong that had fallen on you, wanting to touch you
my brother, to hold you up, whose wounds were made by malady,
not mines, bombs or bullets, but by a surgeon’s knife who cut
a half moon scar on your back, a flag under whose country
you would live the rest of your life. 


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