David Eye offers a moment of horror and a moment of beauty at the airport.
Unspoken at JFK
Laptop battery sapped, finally a corner of floor
by a free outlet. Soon, a muscled man with a buzz-cut
and the same need. Stateside on leave, this sergeant
was headed back to Baghdad, no questions asked,
and did I want to see some photos. Before and after
shots: rows of tents where there’d been only sand.
See how much better, he said. No, I thought, but what I said was
I was Army, too—captain, before I could weigh that word.
The slightest nod. He didn’t ask where or when, I didn’t offer.
I didn’t tell him about the weekend, the rally, the march
against the war. How about more photos, some he didn’t show
most people. My stomach gripped. Before I could answer,
he pulled up folder after folder on his desktop, my pulse racing
with the first double-click. He took them from the back
of a HUM-V he said, while the hourglass icon hovered
like a hypnotist’s pocket watch. Before I could run,
the first photo bled across the screen—blues and pink,
lavenders—a sunset, then dozens. Clouds, edges limned
in silver. Red-faced career soldier about my age, biceps straining
his seams, smitten with pastels and shimmer, the quality of light.
First published in Consequence Magazine, Spring 2010 (Finalist, 2009 Consequence Prize in Poetry).
Reprinted in Between: New Gay Poetry, Chelsea Station Editions, 2013.
David Eye’s published with us before. Read “Targets.”
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Photo credit Flickr/TruthOut