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Home for Christmas, 1968
by Michael Escoubas

They weren't expecting me home
that year—Viet Nam consumed
the headlines, my Navy ship
assigned to combat in places
with strange names: Da Nang,
Haiphong, Hanoi and Can Tho.

I park my car way down the lane
by the cattle guard. I'd forgotten
how cold Illinois can be in winter.
As I button my pea coat tight
around my neck, my feet sink
six inches deep in wet snow.
I begin the trek so familiar
from childhood, different now
that I'm a man. Christmas tree lights
glitter in the distance—tinsel
twinkles through the prismed glass
on the front porch door. Bunting
of red ribbons and fresh-cut pine
drape the white gate and fence.
Then I see Mom and Dad—
they see me, our eyes cloud—
rivers of unashamed tears rush down.

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