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Saturday, April 07, 2007


by Rita Catinella Orrell

An Iraqi interpreter wears a mask to conceal his identity while he
assists a soldier delivering an invitation to an Imam for a meeting
with an American colonel. – The New Yorker, March 26, 2007

You lend us your tongues,
and we use them until they are dry
and cracked and then thank you
with a glass of sand.
Ice water is saved
for those less troublesome,
safe inside the Green Zone gates.

You warn us don't point with your feet
as it's a sign of disrespect
but who will warn you
seconds before limbs are ripped apart
by a roadside bomb on your way to work?

You instruct us never ask
to meet a man's sister,
while you can't protect your own kin
from those who demand
Are you Shia or Sunni?

And until we figure out
how to cut this oily apron string,
we remain bound together,
strangers, traitors, allies,
unable to leave this war,
this dry and broken place,
a greater country than before.

Rita Catinella Orrell has worked as a design editor and writer in New York City since 1995. Her first chapbook of poetry, Stuck in the Dream Wheel, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2005.