If Memory Dances Like the Wind

after Susan Musgrave

at night in a tent with forty-five other guys
you switch on your headlamp and pull the soul
out of your boot, the footbed –
everything you’ve had for all the months you’ve been
gone with your hand searching, fingernails picking at the corner
of the photo
until you’re able to look at it.

until you’re able to look at it
you build it up in your mind
every mission that your run
with your muzzle pressed the the small of a woman’s
back at the mess tent with the juices of a pseudo-American
burger running down your chin,
when the stones crunch under the tires
and Paint It Black sings you to sleep in the desert.

and Paint it Black sings you to sleep in the desert
after you’ve switched on your headlamp and pulled the soul
out of the small of a woman’s back,
everything you’ve had for all the months you’ve been
gone with your hand searching, fingernails picking at the corner
of your boot, the footbed –
until you’re able to look at it
at night in a tent with forty-five other guys.

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