Something so good and pure at the core of a man like my husband hardens to a bullet in the forge of an inhuman world. He might laugh at me for saying so. He doesn’t need me to sing his praise. Those who don’t know him will never admit his humility. They don’t know how strife can temper a man, or that his failings can be strength. They’ve never heard him laugh or cry. (I know he wouldn’t want me saying this.) I’ve seen tears in his eyes at the mention of a baby in distress, but compassion propels him, even as he debriefs the other men with details of the sacrificed, past the whining flesh to the crowning beyond. That’s when his jokes are at their wicked best. That’s when they know he is their leader. Nobody is innocent, I hear him say, but action can purify. At night he has to impress only me. I contemplate the back of his head on the pillow. Nicks in his hair are all that remain of the violence of things that went wrong in the field, unless he’s dreaming of those troubles now. I breathe the endless night. This is the consummation of my life, to lie with his snoring champion’s body, and have it to myself. How many other women would trade with me! I lift the sheet and follow the line of his backbone as far as I dare and keep my motions small. I touch a place that makes me think of him, and gently a place on him that feels like a man, and remember times when we had no mission but one another and all the time in the world. I bite my lip to keep from crying out with the splendor of it all.
Copyright © September 12, 2007 David Hodges