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You Made the Iraqis Their Scarves.

You Made the Iraqis Their Scarves

For Doctor Pat McKay

 When limbs are lost
 who stops to think
 of clothing thrown away
 Who knows the shame
 of sheltered girls
 on sudden public display?

 And so within
 the non-combatants' ward
 they neither prayed
 nor shrank from pork
 but showed their skin
 with vacant-eyed sang-froid
 knowing that since
 the world had burned alive
 it didn't matter.

 You came out of the O.R.
 night after night
 and wrote your orders
 just as the men would do
 but then, instead
 of clumping off to bed
 or getting drunk
 on bootleg DVDs

 You'd find a place
 no one could observe
 bring out an ancient
 Singer sewing machine
 and squares of silk
 left over from a quilt
 the nurses made
 to celebrate our work

 And there each night
 like the breath of a word

 You'd sew, quietly sew
 as the ocean weaves a reef
 together after a storm
 binding polyps
 and tiny fish
 bringing grass
 back together with stone
 with overflowing
 largesse of patience
 because the vast
 inhuman cost of life
 exists to make things whole.

 The day you brought the scarves down
 they pressed your hands
 and those not maimed
 tied scarves around the heads
 of friends who couldn't move
 (silk to die for
 new to those
 dust-colored homes
 only the F- 18s
 had deemed worth bombing)
 Those who thought
 they could no longer weep
 wept to feel the touch
 of simple cloth

 And they were once again sacred women.

Frederick Foote is a physician who practices in Bethesda, Maryland. His work has appeared in Commonweal, JAMA, and other publications. His e-mail is fofoote@bethesda, med. navy. mil.
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Article Details
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Author:Foote, Frederick
Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Poem
Date:Feb 1, 2007
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