To soldiers, I hope the war is fine.
-Girl Scout Troop 472
The children have colored the cards,
dated from December,
with Christmas trees, piles of presents,
snowmen smiling, waving. Sara wants
a doll. Evan, a dog. Kyle promises
to pray for us.
Outside the hooch, we open mail,
hundreds of letters
from youth groups, scout troops,
classes of school children.
Kearns wants to write back,
ask for pictures
of older sisters.
We tape our favorites to the door.
In blue crayon, a stick-figure soldier poses
as he’s about to toss
a black ball,
at three other stick figures,
red cloth wrapped over faces,
across stick chests.
In Jalula,* the children draw us pictures, too.
In white chalk, on concrete walls,
a box-shaped Humvee with two antennae
rising like balloons from the hatch.
A stick-soldier holds a machine-gun;
he waves at us,
us, in the Humvees.
Further down the wall, a stick-man holds
aimed toward the Humvee,
the waving soldier’s head—
what the children want for Christmas,
or what they just want.
Jalula: A small town in Iraq 80 miles northeast of Baghdad in Diyala province
RPG: rocket propelled grenade