My son is sitting

At the kitchen table

Talking about the textual structures

He learned about in school, or how

There is description and sequencing

Or cause and effect and

Problem and solution,

And how sometimes they overlap,

Overlap on top of one another to

Tell a story, he says.

And I am taking plates out of the sink

And putting them in the dishwasher,

Telling my son that

Words are like worlds,

How you have to walk around them

To see, I say, to see what they mean,

And I am looking for paper,

A piece of paper,

So we can make a list, I tell him,

Opening a notebook,

My husband’s, or how

I see it,

His handwriting and the words

Police and range and shooting

And how I know,

I know now, know

That this is mandatory training,

That he is going to go back,

And that

Going back will be more, more

Than what he has described to

Me, rolling over, in our bed,

To face me, saying,

It is safe, and how

It is only a week, or

Maybe two,

And he is telling me how

He does not see problems

In Afghanistan, how he sees

Solutions instead, and how

He wants to make a difference,

And I say, yes, tell him,

I understand, that I understand

That he has to go, because I do.

But I can picture it again,

The sequence of war,

The order of how he

Will put on his uniform,

The camouflage uniform,

The boots and body armor,

A belt around his waist or

How he will carry it, carry

The gun they will give him,

The M9,

A pistol,

That he will wear on his belt,

The one he will shoot, shoot,

Shoot if he has to,

At close range, or

What it means,

The roads and the cars and

The bombers and the IEDs,

The cause or the effect of it,

All the danger and the death,

How I do not know anymore,

Which comes first, and

How words are like that,

The words we say and

The ones we don’t,

How sometimes, sometimes

Words can mean more than

One thing,

And I am turning towards him,

Our son, with a piece of paper

In my hand, saying I am ready,

Or how, later, I will turn the knob

To the door of our bedroom, and

How I will try to turn on the light,

And when it does not turn on,

I will feel my way through this,

The darkness of it,

The structure of

This moment we have not had yet,

Where I am climbing into our bed,

Whispering where are you?

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