Upon Learning My Love Has to Wait

I stand here in the black hawk night
And swear that I can touch your eyelids
Closed— so closed and still I wonder
Just what kind of sleep are you sleeping?
Hush child, the desert air whispers to me
In breezes of sand and smoldering decay
Your Father will not forsake you
Beseech him and rejoice, be glad
But 125 more days, and I cannot so much as shout a hallelujah
No—there is no rejoicing in this sanctuary

Cold—so cold and blankets will not do.
Not even this fleece blanket I have carefully wrapped around my body
Not even my country—America—that I have wrapped around me
Can keep me warm

I breathe, shallow breaths and turn my head to side
To let the rivers of solitude wind their way out
Of my body and on to my silk pillowcase mom gave me
For Christmas last year. I wish they could have
Disappeared into the sleeve of the shirt you wore
When we shared the same breath
the same college
the same city.

And here I am.
And there you are.
Iraq.

Your face only in the pictures
Present only in the images I see on the TV
“We’re winning,” the President tells me.
“Who is we?” I beg. “You?”

And I shake their hands
Sinking flesh I meet the bone and feel their age
Protesters on 2nd Street.
They hold up signs and I never thought I would shake their hands
For this reason in my lifetime.

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