In 1917, my father's naval training completed he received his ensign's commission
and shortly thereafter sailed as a signal officer on a troopship to Europe
Still in the wrong-colored uniform
Among deckloads of backpacking, leg-putteed doughboys.
But then, mysteriously, or perhaps not at all mysteriously,
His rank having been conferred by an institution that wasn't Annapolis,
He was assigned to land duty in the trenches
as a naval observer of ground-war communications.
It is true, communication was his specialty
as it has been the specialty of all men in my family
at least since my grandfather came to America in 1887
and took up the printer's trade.