I Also Married the War, The camis come out, War Paperwork
I ALSO MARRIED THE WAR
Death hung around our wedding,
close as the jangle of my pearl earrings.
I gauzed myself in a white flag.
The rings on their pillow
looked like medals on a chest,
and they fit tight as dress blues.
And the groomsmen carried swords
in Sam Brown belts across their stomachs,
and the sword arch made a great picture.
And one of them was shot in the stomach
yesterday building a wall in Falluja.
50/50 chance. The vows
have always had death in them.
I'm still surprised I married him.
Just three years ago, we stopped talking.
It was after a peace rally
during the bombing of Kabul,
where a couple of striped and starred men
began to poke at me
with the pole of an American flag.
Other protesters linked elbows,
crossed their arms over their abdomens,
And I stood with my back
to the flagbearers and their wall
and it was a great pose,
and someone took a picture for the paper.
And I decided not to call him back,
I could not love a Marine.
As if that were the core of a life
and not one of the decorations.
But, I also married the war
and now the war is our health
insurance and job security.
No walls between. I did not know
the wall of men or the two with flags,
but I know the men shooting,
bombing, building walls in Iraq.
The pictures in the news look
familiar. I chew on the war,
the stale roll with dinner,
and I sleep with his trigger hand,
warm, a little heavy,
across my torso.
Last night, with our friend in a coma,
after a bad fight about the war,
we were lying back to back,
not sleeping, and he turned,
placed his arm over my torso:
we'll find a way over it."
And he always apologizes first,
and I never wanted their war
or their wall. But
the writing there
was always death.
THE CAMIS COME OUT
just two days before deployment
but the date has been a too
heavy starch on everything
we've worn for weeks.
Where did they come from?
couldn't fit in our apartment
and so different from his daily
flightsuit that doesn't feel like
uniform, soft though fireproof
though his eyes match the green
too well as if
it fits something in him
I call it a pickle suit.
He calls it the bag
and washes it at home
with Downy no starch.
And he blends with mechanics,
repairmen, not foreign
He sorts and piles
camis on our bed.
My side desert his side jungle
and we're already
climates and continents
apart. Flinging stiff collars
onto piles of
sand forest sand forest
Separating so many sweat-starched pinnies
for gym class. And we're back in
grade school and all the battles are
and the colors designate enemies
randomly chosen and he's
the great rank of team captain.
want to cry no, no,
just pick me.
When you told me,
"I could be sent to Iraq in a few weeks,"
I was only surprised by the feeling
that I want you to be gone already.
I should have borrowed the tears
you were expecting, but I want
the paperwork to be done, the Will,
the Power of Attorney, so I can sign
your name while you're away. I want
the goodbyes to be said. I almost want
you to have already dropped your first bomb,
killed your first person, so I can start hurting,
stop wondering how it will feel.
Dinner conversation. Another pilot, thrilled
at your chance to do what your trained for,
practice what you studied... "In America's name..."
"But this isn't practice." He replied,
"If you were the target, we could drop
a 500 pound bomb through that window
onto your plate." I shouldn't have said "Happy Meal,"
or, "Then why will it miss me and hit the children
in the pictures?" He claimed,
"We don't miss. The concussion is 3,000 feet."
"So you kill everyone
from here to Grand Avenue."
I shouldn't have said it.
You were swallowing your fork again.
"Honey, you don't help those kids
by staring at them." No, but I click again
on the pictures that arrived conveniently
at my inbox, emailed to thousands, saves
on paper. I forward the one of the little girl,
shrapnel gash and entrails spill from—
we've all seen it or one like it, torn
apart like a little sister's paper doll.
A plagiarist of pain, I borrow it
from the child who did not choose
to be born in Baghdad.
I sign your name
and need to know
that it hurts.