Michigan

“The military life,it’s good,hard if you’re married…you’re gone so long.
And always busy.
They like to keep you busy.”
Frank laughs as he rubs his hands
Together,
hands that are now
Rough from farming
And
Building a home for his wife
After moving from
Michigan
To Alabama
‘For the weather’
“God damned cold.
You haven’t seen anything
Until you spend
48 days without a break!
In negative 40!.
In Michigan
we’d hook
Welding torches
To pipelines
And heat them
run hundreds of feet
Of line underground…
It’s a Different world.”
He laughs again
Rubbing the back of his neck
“The military,it’s comfortable
Good if you’re young
I spent my tour in Hawaii
When I was in the navy.
But I left after I got the chance
I wanted a family
My kids are in now
A friend of mine stayed
Spent his time working with the marines.you know they use the navy for medical,well he just retired
He didn’t make master chief
So he’s out
But with a substantial retirement
Not what it could have been
Ya know,with master chief
But still good
He’s kind of glad actually
He told me
‘Im 41 ya know,and you still have to
Make it into the marines
Every time
Just like the rest of the boys…
And I’m fit as a bull
But damn
It’s getting hard.’

“The military is good
But I’m glad you’re in business
And writing
You can do everything with that
And have a family
An open mind.
You’re gonna see things.
Just like the rest of us.”

I’ve known Frank for two years
So I know he means this
Sincerely
In some way
I feel strangely like a bartender
I know what cigarrete he smokes
Marlboro Lights-short soft pack
He always buys two
So I always have them ready
And we talk about the weather
My brother’s wedding
His farming
His family
A daughter in MN
(For the weather and snow sports )
A son in the military
And others in Michigan
With the farm
And beer

He’ll ask me about school
And retirement
Meaning against his diesel and just shake his head
“You know in the 70s we had it
It was tough but you didn’t have to worry like you guys. I don’t know how you do it.
We smoked what we wanted
Until we didn’t want it
We didn’t have to worry
We worked
And we saved money
We dated
Until we
Fell in love
And then we married
And we fought
When our country
Needed us
It was simple
In some-well-most ways
It was simple
It didn’t feel simple
But it was
Nothing feels simple though
Until it’s done…
We do that,we do that though
Complicate good things.”

And that’s what we talk about
Building life
Homes
And being proud
Of what’s yours
But open enough
To really find out what’s
Around you
And what you can really get
If you try
That’s Frank

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