I packed your seabag

today: six pairs

of pants, shirts folded in

their rigid squares,

your socks balled up

like tan grenades.

I put my photo in

as well, laid

it there between

the Kevlar vest and heap

of clothes. Don’t weep,

the poet warns, don’t weep.

On 60 Minutes,

a soldier turns

his face toward us, shows

the camera his burns,

small metal slivers still

embedded in

the skin, his mouth a scrap

of ragged tin.

The young man’s face

was beautiful before,

smooth, unblemished as

my own. For war

is kind, I read. Great is

the battle-god

and great the auguries,

the firing squad,

the neon green of night

vision that cuts

the darkness open at

its seams, gutted

and spilling on the sand.

Great is the Glock,

the Aegis Weapons System,

the Blackhawk

circling. Great are the Ka-Bar

fighting knives,

the shells that sing through air,

as though alive.


JEHANNE DuBROW is the author of six books of poetry, including, most recently, Dots & Dashes (Southern Illinois University Press, 2017). This poem originally appeared in Stateside (Northwestern University Press, 2010), an exploration of the long history of military wives left to wait and wonder while their husbands are away at war.

This article appears in the Summer 2018 issue (Vol. 30, No. 4) of MHQ—The Quarterly Journal of Military History with the headline: Home Alone