A Soldier’s Arabic

Iraqi women gathering salt.

Iraqi women gathering salt.

By Brian Turner

(This is a strange new kind of war where you learn just as much as you are able to believe. — E. Hemingway)

The word for love, habib, is written from right
to left, starting where we would end it
and ending where we might begin.

Where we would end a war
another might take as a beginning,
or as an echo of history, recited again.

Speak the word for death, maut,
and you will hear the cursives of the wind
driven into the veil of the unknown.

This is a language made of blood.
It is made of sand, and time.
To be spoken, it must be earned.