Beyond Measure

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

I held his prosthesis like a gun

Not then knowing the connection

Between casualties of war 

And consequential medical advances,

Nor aware of the irony

Of turning a device designed

To make a part of a human

That was missing, whole,

Back into a weapon of mass destruction,

Being oblivious to such nuances

At the tender age of ten.

My father had one leg

(practically speaking).  The other

Measured an eighth of his good one 

A “congenital defect” that

Precluded him from engaging

In the war which followed

“The war to end all wars”

In which I daily engaged

In my imagination, weaponizing

Whatever was readily available.

In his closet standing,

Like soldiers awaiting inspection,

Were all his “prior legs” in case 

The new ones didn’t measure up

To the old (they rarely did).

Being precocious beyond measure,

Myself not affected by his defect—

Society’s word, never his—

I’d run into his walk-in,

Gleefully spending hours

Shooting them like bazookas, 

Pretending they were muskets,

Or rifles from the Wild West,

Using them as make shift golf clubs,

Or taking one out to the yard

And using it as a tee-ball stand

Long before they were invented,

Or, filling them with ill gotten goodies

Which I usually forgot about

Until he literally stepped in them

When he needed to use a spare,

Sending the Three Musketeers

Into an early grave,

Launching Milky Ways

Into another galaxy, 

Melting M&M’s 

Not in my mouth but in its “foot”

That I had to clean

After coming clean 

That it was I

Who was using his legs as arms,

As stands to bat balls, 

As containers for gum and candy

In my boyish pursuit of fun,

Afoot in his closet 

That was fancy full.

His leg was mostly a foot

As well as only a foot long, 

His subsequent limp, noticeable,

Yet only inches in measure.

His leg he never measured, 

Never saw his life as deficient,

As not measuring up to others’,

As being disabled from living

A life full of wonder and joy.

Rather, he measured his good fortune,

Of family, friends, a wife, kids, a career

That, when he was a infant,

Was a pipe dream his parents

Dared not dream for him

Being told that he’d be dead

Before he reached the age of two.

Those doctors were only off 

Eighty seven years, six  months, three weeks and five days,

All which he spent being 

Thankful, humble, charitable,

Never bitter, resentful, jealous.

Took me fifty plus years 

To stop rebelling 

From his example,

To stop yelling

About life’s absurdities,

Its injustices, its difficulties,

To begin to see life like he

Always did, a precious gift

We should share with others

Not a burdensome cross

To carry by oneself.

Now, instead of transforming 

A device designed to heal

Into an imaginary weapon,

I hold an iPad in my hand 

Like it were a baby Grand—

Not a gun, rifle or rocket launcher—

Upon which I bang out hits

Heard by few, enjoyed by fewer

But doing it for good measure

If not the sheer pleasure

Of honoring him 

And his prostheses 

Which made him the man

I wish to measure up to be. 


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