every three days
Mar 5, 2011
you left the wire, strapped, radio-nerved, inhaled to go
—your boys looked up from laptops,
sucked lung torpedos, slapped games of Asshole.
patrol in Panjwaii, Dande, district of wires and sand,
IEDs waved from piles of rubble and leaves, metal plates
buried personal gates into the first circle of soldier-dom;
you were always the tail end of the snake, MWO,
6 foot 2, your helmet grazed white mulberry trees,
eyes on everyone, arcs covered for everyone.
every three days, your OC and you, show and tell
who’s who in the zoo, take first shot, risk first blow,
clear, stake, sweat, walk, relief, g2g.
(and a stroll in A’stan
is a sweat lodge,
without cedar boughs and smoke).
nine months home, we walk in thirty below
high winter in the Rockies, you stop
kneel in the snow, forefinger-trace fresh wolf tracks;
I carry the pack, your back, your hips ache—
flask of black coffee, chocolate, blood oranges, bottles of water—
you cover my arcs, patrol through valley shadows
I hold out a mittened hand, walk alongside
down dark alleys of pines, walls of peeled birch,
the mountains hunch like assassins, rise. surround
I will not leave you my friend
you kept me alive in Canada, in Afghanistan
when others lost heart, courage. couldn’t bare to go on.