About the Poems
by Maureen Thorson
When I was thirteen, my family moved to the Naval Station at Mayport, Florida. Though we had lived on bases all up and down the east coast, this was our first billet in Florida. Mayport was the grim flip side of the cheesy little magnets that every Navy wife has a fridge full of, saying "Home is Where the Navy Sends You." I say the grim flip side because, truth be told, I very much doubt that anyone in their right mind would choose to live in Mayport, Florida.
While living there, I went to school off base, and two of the poems printed here– "Rumor Has it Her Bedroom Window is Locked from the Outside" and "Time Warp Girl"—deal with the kids I met. Mayport was not a place that coddled its youth – or even admitted to itself that they were still kids, not short adults who should take care of themselves. Half the kids I knew there didn't know where their fathers were, or who they were, and the other half were the scions of families not quite rich enough to send their kids to private school, and socially angry about it. The base itself, with its relatively pedestrian dangers – older kids on dirt bikes and the occasional drunken sailor – seemed like a haven when compared with the chaos outside.
The remaining three poems – "The Recruiting Videos for the Japanese Navy Have Song and Dance Numbers," "Homecoming," and "Another Reason Mom's Not Welcome at the Wives' Club" – deal with life on base. While my immediate concerns, at thirteen, were with life at school, everything was laid across the backdrop of the navy – the endless rhythm of six-month deployments punctuated with one-to-two month "exercises." All of these poems deal in some way with that cycle, and the emotional oppressiveness it generates, whether through inflated expectations, spiritual resignation, or the annoying and sometimes invasive initiatives perpetrated by wives'-clubs and senior officers' wives in the name of morale.