Afghanistan

Snow on the Mountains

by Kate Gukeisen, written around 2016

Me in the temp FOBTen years ago
the fighting got bad.

Ten years ago
We made
casseroles
that we expected would go uneaten.

We made
calls
that left us weeping on the floor
until we put on brave faces to pick up children from school.

Ten years ago
we asked
ourselves when it would get better

then we hoped
it just wouldn’t get worse

then we resolved
to make the most of our lives
because life is
uncertain
unpromised
and short.

Ten years ago
we dropped our children off
at a friend’s house
or the chapel annex
before we went into the chapel
to listen —
       to briefing
           after briefing
               after briefing.

Where we were Informed.

Though we already knew,
       by who wasn’t sitting with us.

Ten years ago
we learned
that gallows humor is magic,

and that you can get away with
smoking in the church foyer
if you’ve been to the chapel
to learn of new deaths
three nights in a row.

Ten years ago
we toasted
to “snow on the mountains”
because we all knew by then
that snow slowed the fighting.

We pulled up our big girl panties,
       embraced the suck,
           rubbed some dirt on it,
               and we drove on.

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