She's wearing Daddy's shirts
and shooting Daddy's guns,
looking for something of him in
the spent casings and backwards buttons,
the burnt powder and molten lead,
the last traces of faded cologne
that she's known since she can remember.
She's waiting for a phone call
from half a world away
that never lasts long enough,
is never close enough to the real thing,
but it's the best he can do, the best
she can hope for for a long time yet;
it's not really enough for either,
but it's worth more than most can fathom
from their resigned little worlds of bland acceptance
behind complacently heavy eyelids.
She's wishing that someone would understand
what it's like to know that someone they love
could be so close, so alive, yet
so unbelievably untouchable;
she wants to tell them how it feels when
she lies awake at night and wonders if he's
lying awake wondering about her.
People she never met decided one day
that he would go away until they wanted him back;
they never asked her about
how much she would miss him, how many
drought-pinched tears she would cry
because they want to win a war that's
not really even a war,
as far as most normal people are concerned.
They never give a thought to their father,
their brother, their son, their uncle,
being called into a desert wasteland,
into a Green Zone that's not at all green,
to fight a roadside bombing, paper pushing war
where anybody could be the enemy or the victim.
Do they know that she never did either?
She thought he was safe from all of that,
safe for eight whole years, half her life,
before papers and plane tickets in an
innocent white envelope tore her life into
papercut ribbons with their words.
She never expected anything to happen.
It was just a foreign affair, something for
men in suits and ties and goodmorningsir smiles
to take care of, because weren't they
supposed to be taking care of her?
With their education lotteries and
no child left behind speeches that ignored
the thing that would leave so many behind.
But she can't do anything, can't change anything,
and for another eternity, twice the time she's already
been missing him and how it was to always see him,
she'll be wearing Daddy's shirts and
shooting Daddy's guns, hoping that
the faded cologne will stay for her until she can
breathe it in deep from his skin again.