Sitting Baby—a conversation
Assoc. Press photograph,
Sidon hospital, Lebanon, 2006
Oh look look,
a new doll
see how wide-eyed,
and his hair
in little damp curls!
he sits up so straight
and only wearing a diaper
but look at the accessories!
two gauze bandages, with tape
placed on wounds
oh, and a darling little IV bag
with a tube that slides
under one of the arm bandages
the one a splint
to keep his hand flat, and the second
wrapping the arm and the other fist
all over like a boxer's
and that hand's holding a pacifier
just pulled from his adorable mouth, open a little
with full pink lips, ooo!
there's a leg bandage too, all the way
from his thigh to his ankle
and see, on those chubby squeezable feet,
the soles must be ticklish,
and up the other leg
those clever purple spots, bruises
and little pockmarks
how surprised he looks
oh, he's so cute
let's get one!
Mother, Father, Aunt, Grandmother
not even a Virgin Mother's lap to hold him
Last Parcel from the Family Readiness Group*
August, everything's tired, the grass, the trees,
us, even the children doing a craft project
while we work. And it's raining. Grey
inside and out.
We have everything spread around us
on the concrete floor of the drill hall
—a high echoing room with steel girders,
concrete block walls and huge raised doors
so the training trucks can be driven in.
We're mailing the final packages
to the local battalion even though
the men won't return till December.
Any later and the parcels will miss them.
It's the usual—candy, gum, lip balm, skin cream,
shampoo, conditioner, handi-wipes—trying
to use up everything we've been given.
I'm so used to it now that the packing instructions
don't even repeat in my head and it goes fast
even though only a few of us are here.
For this last parcel the special treat
is letters and drawings from local third graders.
We love you they write Thank you for saving us
Come home very soon
and draw pictures, of themselves,
of birds and flowers and spiky suns.
They also write Shoot the bad guys
Don't step on a mine
I want to shoot bad guys too with drawings of stick figures
shooting or falling and Pow Bam ack ack ack
scattered in the air.
We don't send those,
the war hasn't come home.
*National Guard support group for families of deployed soldiers
—Antonia Matthew, Bloomington, IN