I listen to the names and try to imagine the faces.
In the desert three soldiers died today.
The news on TV is 24 hours a day.
The weatherman's in the desert . Checking for rain. Rain's coming. No one
expects it. Baghdad is hot.
Rain is rare, a gift.
And the names are read quietly. Paced. A number. Another.
Inside the house with the AC on and the TV on,
how easy here to forget what living in the hot sun is like.
In the desert. A sweet taste of water under the sun. The gift of shade.
A palm in the middle of danger.
And the bombs in the sun in this season of reading the names.
A child sits on the curb in the sun in a new pair of sneakers.
He is completely afraid in Baghdad.
The palm is the desert, oranges on the tiny toy truck
in front of him.
The soldiers names are read each day.
All of this, what sounds beautiful in a single day, soldier's names,
a boy, palms, going home, a small finely made truck, a toy really.
No talk of this on the TV. Only talk of time lines, troop numbers,
poll numbers, numbers of days engaged, how only a few troops are needed
to do this job.
Danger in the middle of a continent of so much desert.
The plan for the war is to get on with the plan. Forward and not backwards.
But all I know today is about the rhythm of the speech, how it comes
back again and again. Talk of rain. Oranges. Palms swaying.
Things that stay.
And how the buildings all look the same if they are bombed. The landscape,
the window frame where the lavender grew like crazy hours before,
lavender to ward off harm.
A house in Mosel gone. A report of spectacular attacks.
This morning the sky is cloudless and blue again. Today they will read the names.
© Charlene Langfur
Iraq Veteran Returns To Baghdad As A Tourist
Charlene is an organic gardener and a graduate of the S.U. graduate writing program.