Skin

The first time I saw Afghanistan,

It was lying across my television screen,

A country made of war, or

How it looks ancient, we both said, to each other,

Our bodies, here, still here, stretching across a bed,

Because it was before, just before the war,

Before he had to go,

Or how the next time I saw Afghanistan,

It was on my husband’s boots,

As he rode an elevator, down,

To meet me, in an airport, fifteen months,

Later, dressed in fatigues, his head shaved,

How there was still mud caked to his boots.

And I cannot describe Afghanistan,

How the land stretches on for me, endless,

A skin made of war and membranes of men,

Cells of terrorism and houses like pockmarks,

Children and women, in the middle of a land,

That stretches on, like that, endlessly,

Before turning into mountains, or how,

It must feel to be him, a boy with a goat,

Standing in the middle of it,

Afghanistan, the geography

Of this war that is everyone’s but his,

And no one’s,

That is no one’s but his, or

How I am looking at him,

My husband, asleep, now,

Next to me, his body,

Facing mine,

And how his chest is just a cavity,

With skin stretching across it, or

How this is all that we all are

A heap of muscle and tissue,

Blood and bone, tendons, or

Sockets, a soft brain,

Liver, kidney, heart,

Lungs, a set of organs,

Piling up, here, on this bed,

In a pile, and covered in skin,

And I am thinking about it,

About war and land, and about Afghanistan,

About the men and women and children who

Live there, and about us, in this bed,

My husband, transplanted, here, or

Even countries, shaped like scar tissue,

How we are all grafted together by war.

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