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The VA-Issued Crutch

From: Prairie Schooner
Volume 87, Number 4, Winter 2013
p. 58 | 10.1353/psg.2013.0185

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The VA-Issued Crutch

When I was a child, my dad would put on his leg anywhere in the house and drop it off anywhere. In order to do this, he had to drop his pants, unscrew what looked like a metal milk bottle cap to relieve the suction, and pull the leg off the stump and out of the pant leg. Then one of us kids would haul it to the bedroom, or fetch it from the bathroom, or put it in the trunk of the car, if we were headed out for an extended trip.

The jokes he told, the jokes we told.

My entire childhood focused around the leg. The anger from the pain of neuroma growing in the stump, the nerves not knowing the leg was gone. The sweaty smell of the wooden leg cavity, the pinched thumbs in the metal hinge from carrying it. The VA-issued crutch snapping on the stair. The thousands of falls.

War was rarely, rarely mentioned. The leg was all we needed to know. [End Page 58]

Tamra J. Higgins

Tamra J. Higgins has taught in the public schools of Vermont for the past nineteen years and recently earned an mfa from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine. She is president of the Poetry Society of Vermont and is owner and director of Sundog Poetry Retreat. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and is forthcoming in Haiku Society of America Anthology.


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