A Soldier’s Arabic
This is a strange new kind of war where you learn
just as much as you are able to believe.
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.
A Soldier’s Arabic first appeared in Voices In Wartime Anthology, May 2005.
Poem, copyright © 2005 by Brian Turner
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse