When I talk about the night raids,

My husband’s face closes like a door,

Because I am asking how, how it works,

But I should know better,

Because this is war,

And there are things he cannot say.

What I know is this,

There are lists,

How there are names on them,

Names of men,

That other men turn in,

And how they say, they turned,

Or they’re with them now, the Taliban,

And they become the targets, that soldiers hit,

Clearing their houses, in the pitch black, searching,

For something, or how, sometimes, people get killed,

The soldiers searching,

Or the men,

Their wives, and their children, and

It is night, now, in my kitchen,

And my husband is, here, now,

Standing in front of me,

Saying words that are safe,

Like good and night,

And I realize,

Even though my husband did not do it,

Never went on foot patrol, or knocked

Down doors, or cleared a house,

He was there,

There in Afghanistan,

This country of night raids,

Where men will hand you

The names of other men,

And I think about that,

My husband, the shape that a name would take,

If it was curled inside his fist, or how he drove,

Down roads, passing bloodstains, on the ground,

Never knowing who or if, and

Later, my husband is in bed,

And I am awake,

Standing at a window, in my kitchen, over

A sink, thinking about it,

The scope of this war,

Ten years, now, or him,

My husband, how I still do not know, everything,

Or about targets,

The human body,

And how it looks through the scope of an M4,

A head, the collection of limbs,

Torso, this chest, surrounding

The heart as if it mattered.

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2 Responses to Scope

  1. Elaine says:

    I wish I knew what to say, beyond being amazed at how you assemble words to evoke such emotion. Maybe it’s just WOW.

  2. Zam says:

    Hello. I feel compelled to write a comment after randomly coming across your poetry (or is it just beautiful prose?). I am Afghan myself and think your writing is stunning. you have a way with words that really articulates the distress of war, when you are looking from the outside (which I feel like i am).

    I do think caution has to be exercised as to not romantisise war (which fortunately you have distinctly avoided :)) , and i dont do have as much sympathy for soldiers as I do for the civillians that die or are victimised due to this foreign military operation’s countless failings and ‘mistakes’- it would be wrong to erease your experience, as war is difficult for all humans on all sides. You seem to have a balanced view in not glorifying the what your husband and the 1000s of other soldiers like him do there – so for that I say thank you, and wish you lots of luck for the future.

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