The cute waitress at the Alembic has
hair red as Ann Margaret’s, eyes liquid
lined like Marilyn, Sophia Loren. She’s
beautiful, always looks high.
Peonies and poppies, koi and flowering
vines on her soft shoulders, American thighs.
She has freckles, a little lisp. Angela,
from Wisconsin, who was in the Army
eight years. This is what a veteran looks like
I keep telling myself, on the sidewalk
after her shift while she drinks, talks
about driving trucks into Baghdad, rolls
her eyes about the VA, being brave. She laughs
about self-medicating PTSD, how the earthquake
the other day made her think IED.
I light her cigarette, laugh with her,
squeeze her elbow, thinking Fucking A.


Pushcart prize winner Jill McDonough’s first book is Habeas Corpus. The recipient of fellowships from the NEA, the Library of Congress and elsewhere, she teaches at UMass-Boston and directs 24PearlStreet, the online writing program at the Fine Arts Work Center.

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