In peace the sons bury their fathers, but in war the fathers bury their sons.
You have to leave this warm state of oranges,
for a burning desert. The twenty years of service
in tattered camouflage, but fourteen years
since you finished wiping coarse sand off your boots,
does not satisfy leaders, wearing shiny suits,
starched shirts and red, white and blue
ties, sitting in clean, corner offices in the pentagon;
so they hand you orders for deployment.
On the edge of a brown couch, you lean down to knot
black shined boots, reflecting olive fingers, as you run
thin laces through metal clips. Next, you slide coat buttons
into each open hole, while your sons observe this ritual,
nervous and impatient, they ambush you with hugs;
their ages combined barely breaking eleven. You set them down,
and walk to the car with my sister;
she wraps her arms around you and squeezes.
I wrote this for a class in 2004 and is a part of bigger poem titled democracy.