The power goes off again

In this condo I am living in

Since my husband left,

Left for war.

And my neighbor comes over,

With a flashlight in his hand,

Saying something about how

A line went down and

Just to check on you.

This neighbor who is a man,

Who I share a wall with and

Nothing else,

Not about the war,

How I am married,

Or how my husband

Is gone.

Because this is what the Army

Tells me to do,

Not to tell anyone, and

Not to draw attention to myself,

Because I am

A woman living alone.

And he asks me where,

Where the electrical box is,

The circuit breaker, he says,

Lifting his hands into the air

And making snapping motions

With his fingers,

To show me,

Saying this is a husband’s job,

As if I do not know

What electricity is or

How a circuit can break,


When there is a surge,

And the power overloads.

But my neighbor does not understand

That when your husband goes to war,

Is gone for fifteen months,

Boots-on-ground in Afghanistan,

You learn about power,

Where the box is,

Hanging on a wall

In your garage, or

How to hold the switches

In your fingers in the dark,

And when he comes home,

How the war will surge

Through your house,

This current of war

You did not expect,

How Afghanistan will surge

Through your body every

Time he touches you and

Every time he doesn’t.

How there will be volts,


The amps of what happened there,

The bodies of men and women and

Children, dead and lying on a road,

How the war will be a live current

In your marriage,

How there will be connections,

When you are lying in bed,

Your legs and his legs

Crossing like wires, or

His arm crossing your chest

Like an ammunition belt,

The disconnections,

When circuits break,

Because the power,

The power of war and what

It does becomes too much,

And your husband turns away,

Turns off, shuts down,

And everything goes dark again.

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