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Atlantic City 1939.

ATLANTIC CITY 1939 When I was young and returning from death's door, I served as chaperone, pale as waxworks, a holiday child, under the bear laprobe in the back of my courtesy uncle's Cadillac careening through a world gone wild. The Germans pushed into Poland. My mother sat up front, close pressed as bees to honey to Uncle Les and wobbled the stick he shifted by. I whooped my leftover cough but said no word, a bear asleep or dead. Later, in the Boardwalk arcade when a chirping photographer made me put my face in the hole with wings, they snuggled behind him, winked and smiled as he fussed and clicked the shutter's spring and there I was corporeal in the garb of the angel Gabriel, forever a captive child. Pink with ardor, not knowing why, I longed for one of them to die that slow September by the sea. He fell on the beach at Normandy. I never heard her say his name again without a flush of shame for my complicity.

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Author:Kumin, Maxine
Publication:The Nation
Date:Oct 6, 1984
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