top of page

Jan Ball​

American Medal


On the Biedermeier dresser you display

the war medal our friend gave you

to commemorate your 2004 naturalization,

United States of America, 1941-45 stamped

on one side and American Campaign

on the other, the disk suspended from

a striped grosgrain ribbon with colored streaks

of cobalt blue and navy, the white bands like

a vapor trail or the wake of  a ship

from the vessels embossed on the second side.

But who was Kenneth J. Mulvey, we have

pondered while putting on our shoes

in the morning, you straightening your tie  

in the beveled mirror and now this New

Year’s Eve we have been asked to bring

a favorite object to the dinner party

and you decide to bring the medal. It lies

on the table harmoniously with other objects

that people have chosen from the armory

of their lives, for all of us to guess the owner:

the Swiss Army Knife that you and Steven

bought me in Bordeaux for Mother’s Day,

a young woman’s photo, a wedding ring,

an engraved pen, a small tool in an old box,

two silver dollars, both 1920,

and your American medal waiting

to be identified in this congenial setting.

Before the Wedding in Cuernavaca


Brian is showering then we are all meeting

downstairs next to the poinsettia display

at eleven-fifteen but then it might be eleven-

thirty or we might even be meeting in front

of the recepcion; this is Mexico, after all,

and the manana thing doesn’t seem to be

a stereotype, we’re finding. I’m already

in my usual stretchy black staley gretzinger

wedding dress (as the designer’s name looks

on the label that I just confirmed) with

the potato prints all over it that I can wear

my black Australian opal earrings with,

wide gold bracelet and ruby ring (the

Indian relatives will be covered in gold

bangles; I already saw the groom’s sister

with a diamond stud in her right nostril).

I’ll probably be the only woman among

the stiletto Mexican senoras who is wearing

flat shoes that I should have had reheeled

before  packing but my hair looks fine

with just the hotel shampoo and conditioner

and I depilated a few days ago unlike

Laura who I noticed at breakfast depilated

her upper lip just this morning.

american medal
before the wedding
bottom of page