I am lying in bed, and I can hear my heart beat,
Going faster and then slower and faster again,
This is just stress, I tell myself, the stress of war,
And what it does.
I hear about other military wives and their husbands,
Soldiers returning home from war, wounded, a TBI,
And without a leg, or addicted to them, those pills
That Walter Reed hands out for the pain, suffering
From PTSD, diagnosed after they hide in the bushes
And refuse to come out, thinking they are still there,
Boots on the ground, in Afghanistan, or depressed,
Sitting in the dark, for hours, when the flashbacks come,
Waiting, for hours, until they go away, or even mean,
And abusive, striking out at a new enemy, their wives,
When they have nothing, nothing left but the anger.
And the wives sit on chairs in empty kitchens,
In the middle of the night, staring at steel sinks,
Eye level, or lie awake in beds, next to their husbands,
These men they don’t know anymore but still love,
Or cannot love anymore because they know them too well,
Cry in cars, cry in showers, cry while running down the block,
A morning exercise routine, this practice at getting away.
These are stories that I know now.
These are the stories of military wives.
And I know I am lucky, because my husband is fine.
But still, I can hear them.
I hear them in our house.
The missed beats, the delayed beats, a faint murmur,
The faulty wiring of our marriage, overloaded by it,
That electrical current of war, the subtle disturbances,
That war brings, my husband, different now, and us,
Standing on opposite ends of our living room, just trying,
Trying to figure out how, how to live together again.