My fingers travel the knoll of his shoulder,

mind flashing to the day his orders arrived,

before the cold and early snow drifts on the garden.


Nine months “boots on hostile ground” the official

words read in translation, but in this moment

his callused foot, bare and chill, strokes my calf.


We have already covered each other’s backs,

dry from indoor heat, with creamed coconut oil—

white and warmed between our palms –


so as not to assault our tender flesh.  It will be my job

to rake snow from the roof, blow it from our drive,

look after family members and matters


while rough desert sands find their way

into his socks, his eyes and nose and mouth,

his ears and hair, and his boots make prints


barren land will forget in less time than we have

to memorize our familiar geographies

before he must answer this call to duty.

Caroline LeBlanc, MAMF Writer in Residence


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