A milestone was reached in August 2012, when the
United States military reached 2,000 dead in Afghanistan.
—The New York Times, Monday, September 3, 2012
Flat chest, hairy arms, biceps
bulging below lime green straps—
the dress paired with hot pink socks
pulled up to his knees—
his buzz cut a stark contrast
to those bold accessories.
They had made a pact
sealed in pizza and beer:
whoever died first, the other would wear
a dress to the funeral.
Back then, Afghanistan a galaxy
away, as foreign a country as death.
Mourners in black
make room for him in the front pew,
where his outfit clashes
with the flag draped over a bronze casket.
Everyone stands at attention,
when a young soldier—stunning in neon—
salutes his friend.
Shirley J. Brewer ( Baltimore , MD ) is a poet, educator, and workshop facilitator. Publication credits include: The Cortland Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Pearl, Comstock Review, Loch Raven Review, Passager, Manorborn. Her first book of poetry, A Little Breast Music, was published in 2008 by Passager Books. A second book of poems, After Words, is forthcoming in early 2013 from Apprentice House/Loyola University.