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David is 19
Doesn’t know anything else besides the hard exterior of his bullet proof vest
And skills that those video games weren’t gangster enough to teach him.
David has a single mother who couldn’t afford his higher education
And a dream that fell into a pipe long before he even had a chance to realize he had it
They turned David’s skin inside out when he enlisted
Told him his insides need to be just as hard as metal bullets piercing young skin
No time for sissy play during war-time, they say.
His mother keeps his kindergarten picture underneath her pillow
And she swears, some nights she can feel him quivering
Sometimes she can feel the scars under her wrists pulsating
Because this isn’t what she wanted for him either.
I built him to be more than this, she says.
Yuko is 16
She doesn’t know anything else besides the fragility of her own reflection
And fear that is heard in her back and forth as she roams through Okinawa, Japan.
Yuko’s mother wishes she married an American
So she took her dreams and turned them into seeds
Implanted it inside of her womb
The night Yuko was conceived
Grew gardens of expectations the day she was born
And blew dandelions into Yuko’s hair
With silent wishes for her to marry a white or black G.I.
Save yourself for a soldier, she’d say.
Yuko remembers David
She remembers walking home from school
Past the bar
That only rumors talked about
And the whiskey on David’s breath that he signed off as his excuse
She can still feel the soreness in between her legs from
When he took his fingers
And inscribed “America, the beautiful” deep inside her thighs
As a reminder for her to know where he came…on
With the “Star Spangled Banner” blaring on his breath
He took her fluid dreams he wished he had
Used it as lubrication
As he forced her legs wide open
telling her maybe the more you spread her legs
The more miles she’ll gain to get out of here
Out of this room
With broken angels
Cutting off their wings to fan the ugly out of this room
With this boy who was never taught to be better
And this girl
Who’s body never had a chance to be more
David makes the mistake of looking into Yuko’s eyes
Just as she was desperately blinking in Morse Code to stop
And suddenly, the skills he learned begins to matter
He suddenly begins to understand her
He starts remembering
Now his kindergarten picture under his mother’s pillow can’t stop shaking
So he took his adhesive tongue and stuck a secret apology letter over the outside of her mouth
With “PS: When I was a kid, I wanted to be a firefighter. Not a monster.”
All the while, Yuko thinks this couldn’t be it
This ain’t the type of soldier that mama meant
Doesn’t give two shits
About the irrelevant letter that was pasted on her face
Doesn’t give two shits about his hidden good intentions
They won’t bring back her innocence
No matter the effort
No matter the sorry he slobbered behind it
He still took his dirty tongue
And cemented dead words over her mouth
To keep her silent.
Copyright 2009 Jerrica Escoto