Pack It

Pack It:

An American Paratrooper Teaches the New Kid to Pack His Parachute
December 1941

by Pam Anderson

You got to pack it yourself, bud. No rag snap
promise from some amateur who wants a nickel
just to stuff your container any which way.
He don’t know nothing about nothing.  If you want
that chute to open over the drop zone, don’t you dare
trust no man’s hands but your own
to tuck in the corners. That silk, she’s your baby
now—your missus—your sweet thing. And you got
to treat her right. When the Jump Master yells
Hook Up and you hitch to the static line, your gun
in three pieces and strapped inside pockets
down your legs, ammo ‘round your middle
and a pouch a smokes over your heart—when you find
yourself standing behind some big guy who sure as hell
will panic and need the bottom a your boot
in his backside before he steps out of that C-47—that’s
when you got to know your chute’ll open.
When she does—when she hits air
like a kite—you’ll be glad you packed her.
Cause then, bud, you got to start praying
you don’t tangle in trees on the way down—or Jerry
don’t pick you off before you hit—or you don’t
break both ankles in a bad land.  When your toes touch
pay dirt, you got to somersault just like a kid.
Then cut them lines—wrap up your baby silk fast—
and bury her before sunrise.

Pam Anderson, who is a hair’s breadth away from finishing her master of fine arts in the NEOMFA program, is the daughter of a steelworker from Warren who also was a paratrooper during World War II. Her poems in this issue of Jenny were significantly influenced by her father’s stories.

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