Birthday

When you came home from war,

You gave me a stone shaped like a heart,

A piece of rock mined in Afghanistan,

That you bought in a marketplace in Kabul,

Before they sent you home to America,

A stone called lapis lazuli, as blue as the sky,

How you wanted it to have my name on it,

And the man carved each letter in,

With a pocket knife,

But this was before,

Before you were home for awhile,

Before I realized that a part of you

Was still gone, and before

You lay next to me, in bed, and in our darkness,

And told me you loved me, but that you wanted

To go back, build schools, and help, and the words

Weeks and months and maybe crawled between us

Twisting and turning, like snakes.

Today is your birthday,

And you are saying, maybe I should forget about Afghanistan,

Because nothing you have tried to do,

To help, has worked.

And I place my hand on your chest,

Spreading my fingers across your heart,

Like a wing,

And I tell you, I understand now,

Because I was there on 9/11,

Because my body will always be filled

With towers falling down, metal shards

And dust, arms and legs of the people

Jumping,

How inside your chest, the cavity there,

Lies Afghanistan, the land, and mountains,

And people, dirt and bombs and guns and

The men who called you their brother,

And I whisper to you what you already know,

How you cannot forget

What you will always remember.

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