When my husband comes home,

From Afghanistan,

He wears his combat boots.

And I watch him out

A window, mowing the lawn,

Pacing back and forth in grass,

With his boots laced up over sweat pants,

Pushing the lawn mower, a domestic tank,

And I know the war is still here.

Here in my house, here on this lawn,

And my husband, in his combat boots,

How the war is making its imprint on grass,

Marking its territory across our backyard,

Because I am lying in bed, here,

Thinking about them, his boots,

Standing by the garage door,

With mud caked on them,

And I am thinking about them,

The men who die over there,

Die in war,

And how the soldiers who are left,

Make a cross,

Empty boots on the ground, a gun

Standing on its butt, with the bayonet

Attached, a metal skeleton, and that

Empty helmet hanging on top,

A battlefield cross my husband says,

Describing the times he stood there,

Remembering the men who died,

Over there, instead of him, a bomb,

Their bones scattered across highways,

And a wife, back in America, who is not,

Not listening for the telephone anymore,

Not waiting for the war to be over, or

For her husband to come home, because

She is kneeling on the floor, instead,

In front of a closet, holding an old sweatshirt,

The one that doesn’t smell like him anymore,

Only a minute, she whispers, before letting go.

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2 Responses to Cross

  1. Jenny Bell says:

    Like I said before, you just know how to take a universal experience, such as mowing the lawn, and bring such a unique perspective to it. You speak for the military wife over and over again in your poems, and I can’t find a single one that doesn’t hit home for me.

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