May 22, 2010
word just in. they’re back inside. the wire. last day on the line. their roll of dice. their job done. their piece of jigsaw placed. last sentry. last stroll. last presence patrol. last fight. last drive through countryside. last flight. last Afghan sun. set. last Afghan sun. rise.
last in. last out. across our sleeping country, the rifle coy’s loved ones sigh. can’t quite believe. can’t quite let it sink in. and they grieve for the ones who won’t come back. and they feel guilt for the ones who won’t come back. and the injured.
and they still can’t quite inhale to the bottom of their lungs as they pack bags. their backs still hurt with the mysterious pain that attacked all winter long as they imagined the midnight knock. and they walk the ground glass of anxiety, the next step, the next guess. as they wonder who he/she is. after this tour. after lifetimes, the young have seen too much, felt the gut punch of loss, heard the thunder out of season.
and the tightness of an engine of brothers/sisters enduring deprivation, fear, elation. bitching bitching bitching (because all good soldiers bitch, it’s what they do and if they stop, that’s when it’s time to worry) all compressed into 7 months. already dismantled, part by part. some replacement, some restore, some damaged, some shiny, good to go for the next. the long distance race through the sand (think Dakar Rally) done.
and there is relief. and there is guilt at surviving. and anxiousness.
for some, once they land, walk through the threshold of their home, the real tour begins, the heavy load. the making or the breaking.