My father used to duck-and-cover
under desks, small protection against
a Cuban missile launched for San Antonio.
He still has nightmares. As a kid
I dreamed of a silver football
dropping on a parched field—
the world turned loud and white.
I’d wake crying. This is how I died,
I told my mom. She taught me
though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death I will fear
no evil. Maybe that’s when I stopped
believing in God. A few years ago,
I read about people living
in decommissioned missile silos
and I wondered what it would be like.
Last year, I saw one for sale. I couldn’t
afford it. Today, I walked down the street
looking at the gold dome of the state capitol,
at a mural painted by a graffiti artist,
at the trees in the park that was once
a cemetery. This is all so tenuous.
A musician friend and I exchanged
muddled words about a world cold
with the promise of a new war. If movies
are right, fallout can look like snow, which
today is still melting from shadows.
Silver-spooned mouths never
seem to know what they start, or
maybe don’t care. The wind rustled
what few leaves never left the trees.
The sun was weak and low. Each day
seems more numbered.
Liz N. Clift holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Iowa State University. Her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Hobart, Passages North, The National Poetry Review, and elsewhere.
I was speaking with my father about politics, when he shared that he’d been having the nightmares he had as a child during the Cuban missile crisis, and afterward abruptly changed the subject.
Where have you lived—states, countries, etc.?
Texas, North Carolina, New Zealand (however briefly), Iowa, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Any toppings?
Chocolate chile sorbet, with no toppings.
With whom, living or dead, would like to share dinner and why?
I’d love to have dinner with my paternal grandfather, who died when my father was an infant. He was a conscientious objector in World War II, and I would love to talk with him more about his experiences in Africa, working for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration during this time.