My Uncle Meaney had a long white scar
over his midsection, and when he was
out boating on family vacations,
crabbing, oystering, deep sea fishing,
he’d go shirtless, and there was that
scar as clear as the writing in the sky.
I must have asked him, how’d you get the scar?
I was attacked by natives, he’d say.
He did not specify which natives or the
land on which they attacked him,
so it was probably a lie. He was not
a mean guy, but tough, adventurous,
survivalist mean, and the story of his
near death experience being chased by
natives helped make the significance
of “Uncle Meaney” vivid to us kids.
I have two theories, neither of which
I have attempted to verify, not since
his death some 15 years ago now at least.
Maybe he was cut open in a brawl
of some kind, that’s possible. But the
idea that strikes me as most likely,
and maybe I have even heard this
story but can’t remember its source,
is that during the war, his plane
was shot down across enemy lines,
and the injury came from the crash
and while he was bleeding out
he managed to extricate himself
from the wreckage and run, hobble,
crawl to safety. Uncle Meaney indeed.
Attacked by natives–German natives
maybe, as I have imagined it.
I have decided: it turns out that, after all,
the stories our uncles told us, even the lies,