Military Issue: Boot,

rough-out combat, tan

by Tami M. Johnson

That night, we watched fireflies dancing in the desert sky. You said it reminded you of being a boy lying on a pine straw pallet using stars as target practice. We kicked sand off our boots. I filled endless hours reminiscing about Montana – so hard to imagine in that sweltering grit – the wide-open spaces, fly fishing with my dad in the Gallatin hearing more about honor than eager trout, spellbinding tales of my Lakota ancestors at the Little Bighorn, childhood myths about Custer’s fate quickly displaced by truth.

Beneath the burning ember of your ever-present Camel, I’d hear your laughter – that snorting freight train, deep and bronchial. Your syrupy drawl conjured images of fevered Kentucky backwoods chasing wild hogs with your little brother, the time you stumbled on a hidden still and learned the first of many lessons with moonshiner buckshot, the cloud of black coal dust that clung to your daddy like an overcoat, how your granny could wring a chicken’s neck swift as a magician’s hat trick then feed ten kids on it.

We shared some laughs. How you treasured those boots, the first new shoes you’d ever owned – 14 EEE’s fit for the big boy you were. Memories of the man you became now mine.

Copyright 2016, Tami M. Johnson

Tami M. Johnson resides in Birmingham, AL. She enjoyed a 30-year career in the financial services industry, while also pursuing many forms of artistic expression as a writer of poetry and creative non-fiction, and as a painter. Her poetry has appeared in various print and online publications, including Bare Root Review, Breakwater Review, Third Wednesday, The Heron’s Nest, and tinywords.

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