Commute

by Sarah Maples

by Sarah Maples

Eight of us cram into the shuttle,

Our weapons made useless by proximity.

 

Restricted and restrained, we roll through the busy streets.

 

Humvee leads the way,

 

Past the checkpoint and the clearing barrels,

Past the amputee begging on the curb.

 

The soldier with the .50 caliber yells, “Get out of the way!”

 

Weaving in and out,

Gun up.

 

Past the crooked mud huts and the jingle trucks,

Past the man with the donkey cart.

 

“Get out of the way!” the soldier with the .50 caliber yells.

 

Faster now,

Gun down.

 

Past the mutated sheep’s carcass and the carnivorous wasps,

Past the angry crowd outside the embassy.

 

The soldier with the .50 caliber yells, “Get out of the way!”

 

A warning shot,

Gun reloaded.

 

Past the infant with the kohl-lined eyes and the women in the burkas,

Past the rosebushes and the barefoot boy selling flat bread,

 

Past the suicide bomber.

 

****

Sarah Maples served as an Air Force Intelligence officer from 2000-2007, including deployments to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Afghanistan. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from Fairleigh Dickinson University and is the creator of the veterans resource blog, After the DD-214.

 

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