I am sitting in my station wagon,

Thinking about pronouns, or how

When my husband came home,

The men from Afghanistan would

Write my husband letters, saying,

Come back,

How they would ask him,

To bring his wife, his children, to Afghanistan,

Move there, and live in a compound, where

Sand stretches across the land like skin, and

How they would say, your wife will be happy,

Because my husband could marry again,

Have many wives, and

I would never be alone.

Life is like that, I tell him,

My husband, as we stand,

Here, in America, in front of a double sink,

And wash our faces and necks and teeth,

Both taps on, water working its way down,

Two drains at the same time.

Because I could have been born anywhere,

I say, or been anyone,

And I can’t stop thinking about it,

Who my husband says, turning the

Faucet off and turning towards me,

And I try to tell him,

How I could have been them,

Or they could have been me,

All of the millions of women

In this world who walk each day to find water,

And who do this, I say, climb

Into a bed, next to a man,

That they have learned to understand,

And how when a bomb goes off

In the middle of a dirt street somewhere,

And bodies of men and women and children

Are blown up and blown apart, how

An arm or leg found lying in the dirt

Loses gender and becomes it,

How we say it was lying in the road.

And it is dark, now, in this bedroom,

My husband is asleep, his back rising

Up and falling down, next to me, like

A country,

The light of a light we left on again,

Snaking its way under doors, and

Across our chests and necks like

Necklaces, and I am thinking now,

Thinking in this darkness,

About water and women and war,

About the bodies,

The arms and legs and torsos

Of war,

How they are ours,


And mine.

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3 Responses to Pronoun

  1. mjgranger says:

    Yup. You nailed it. Been there, doing that, except in Iraq not Afghanistan. Bless you both. One day at a time. Hooah!

  2. Carolyn Burns Bass says:

    You don’t need to be a soldier, airman or marine–or the wife of one (like me)–to connect with this poem. Its truth is universal. I was struck specifically in the metaphor of the water running freely down the drain in double sinks. In our arrogance we might think all the world should have double taps and jacuzzi tubs for bathing, but in truth, there are those people who cherish their simple ways and who are we to tell them any different?

  3. Nancy Boylan says:

    Recognizing how fortunate, blessed, or lucky …… we are to live in America is not
    arrogance. Hopefully, we are grateful for all that we have. Yes, those who live differently
    may cherish their simple ways, but if they haven’t experienced
    running water or electricity in the safety of home, they may be unaware
    of what they are missing.
    The horror of war is their reality.
    The horror of war is our fear.
    Is it Fate, God’s grace, or our Good Luck that we live
    in America? I don’t know, but I am grateful to be here.

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