My father has a tattoo on his left bicep. The letters arc
over the crescent top of a faded parachute, which sits
on top of numbers and more letters that designate his
membership in an Army airborne infantry division.
The tired ink reads,
‘God is My Parachute.’
Dad is a loudly self-proclaimed atheist.
That old mark on his arm is as familiar to me
as the rough fabric of his army fatigues,
or the weightless feeling of being thrown
into the air, shrieking in fright, even though
he solidly caught me each time.
His facial hair is white, his head bald,
the tattoo fading, like his mind. He wears jeans
that swallow his legs and a long-sleeved t-shirt
under a black, zip-up bomber.
I drive us to his VA hospital appointments, and on
this morning a group of men around his age
shuffles through the parking lot. Dad rolls down
the passenger window to scream at them,
‘Get out of the goddamned road!’
I don't jump
this time.
The old vets continue slowly across the road.
I take the impatient moment to ask him
if he enjoyed jumping out of planes. The sarcasm
is thick in his laugh as he shakes his head and explains –
it was for double the money. He's afraid of heights.
I'm his only caregiver, his daughter
and the one who clutches every bit
of time he has left -
even though I never believed in him
and as a middle-aged woman, am terrified
of his staff sergeant yelling voice.
Tracee Clapper lives with her family in Charleston, SC. She spends time in and draws most of her inspiration from nature, specifically birds and their habitats. She’s been published in The Blue Nib, Poppy Road Review, Spillwords Press, Young Ravens Literary Review, Impspired Magazine, and The Weekly Avocet.
She writes to heal her soul and those of anyone else within whom her work resonates.
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