War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

Your letter this morning from Afghanistan

we try when we wake at 4 a.m., not to fill in the _____s.
silence of days ticks on too many clocks since you left.

imagination is desert. sometimes deep gold, brown. filled with hawks, and owls. grape vines heavy with good crop. grape huts ready for sweetening.

Caravanserai. warm for wintering.
always Afghan sky, indifferent, lapus lazuli shuffling a deck. rolling dice.

and sometimes imagination is black and white.
photographs in breakfast papers.

is it you, is it you? a magnification glass over smiles
chin straps, dark ballistics, helmet, frag vest, C6 slung and ready.

a father tells me he’s lost fear of telephone calls after midnight. calculated time differences. your first call home at 3 a.m., his legs liquid.

he shouts into the receiver, “what?“, not “hello.” his soldier son bright shiny
on the line as if he’s next door. instead of basking in a war zone.

the childless son cannot know. what it means
to waken in the middle of these nights to ringing.

and I’m not in your chain of command. it would take days for me to know.
maybe one of the brothers might drop a note.

so this morning when I woke. saw your email, Today 04:50 AM
I inhaled. did the usual. sighed. smiled.

“my Pashto comes back. the terps said I’ll be translating soon. this is going to be a good go.” the happiest I’ve heard from you ever.

and at least for some hours, maybe some days, the father who got the phone call and I, your letter on my laptop, will be happy too.

knowing you’re well.
knowing you’re alive.


About This Page

The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled Your letter this morning from Afghanistan. It was posted here on October 25, 2009.

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