The Gift LESLEY JENIKE
“Lord, we know what we are, but not what we may be.” —Ophelia, Hamlet I once met a man who was a doctor in the Vietnam War, and I don’t mean my father who was also a doctor in the Vietnam War. This man—the man I mean—is a poet. Since he came home from that other country, decades ago, this man has spent the bulk of his time working as a doctor and not talking about the war at all. Then the war showed up suddenly in a story he wrote about fly fishing. It was unexpected, he says. But necessary. Now he helps vets recover physically and through language too, so I suppose I mean intellectually and emotionally. He told me some get better, and some don’t. I told the man about myself, my daughter, my husband. I told him about my father—how he can only really talk about the war over bourbon, disguising his stories as jokes. We walked together across a bucolic liberal arts campus in June, and I was pretty sure he was teaching me something. “Yeah,” he said. “Everyone has their particular way of moving on.”
Fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and art selected for phoebe's Spring 2018 issue.