History Exhibit

When I come across my nine-year-old daughter handling munitions
beneath the sign that coaxes, Work together for the war effort,

I marvel at the museum’s neat order. One by one insertion.
Cartridges pulled forward on steady conveyer

to manufacture bombs, rubberized here
for the safety of children. Drop first the squat cylinders,

top with projectiles arrow-shaped to reach their target.
I can see her toiling ten hours per day back in 1940’s America.

I think of her grandmother, working all those years
for the defense contractor, burning her arms

on hot machines, laughing with her friends
at potlucks and birthdays. The sign explains

we must try to complete six shells every fifteen seconds,
so we tease, Work harder! Move faster!

My husband refills her supply from the bin where they fall
as I move around snapping photos. Yes, I do think

of her grandfathers, returning from Vietnam
too early in history for recognition and repair of hidden wounds.

Yes, I recognize in the outline of my daughter’s profile,
beneath the fall of her chin-length hair, the echo of her cousin

who would have turned thirty-five last month
had she survived Afghanistan

all the while I talk about meeting quotas, eye focused
through the lens of my camera.

Micki Blenkush lives in St. Cloud, MN and works as a social worker. She was selected as a 2017-2018 fellow in poetry for the Loft Literary Center’s Mentor Series program and was a 2015 recipient of an Emerging Artist Grant awarded by the Central MN Arts Board. Her writing has recently appeared in: The Fourth River, Typishly, Cagibi, and Crab Creek Review.

See more of her work in 3.1 and 4.3 and 5.2 and 6.1 and 6.3