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April 25, 2004
I. The Ambush

Camouflaged behind random rust and remnants of green, not unseen, not fit
For this mission, the commander prods the dread old tank toward the Target.
"This was once a Ford" is her joke. In the cluttered rear, two warriors foment
Toward battle, disputing who first touched whom. She orders both to freeze.
Two threats and a razor voice do the trick. She gathers then releases a sneeze.

Target reached: Deploy! The patrol spills out. Search and seize: cold syrup,
Tissues, and cookies. Quiet now for heaven's sake, steady, . . . almost escaped,
When the battle breaks out: a yell, a cry, a tussle, a threat, an urge to slap
Again suppressed, but now their coordinates are revealed to the enemy
Who swiftly moves in, surrounds, aims--and stares. Eight seventy-three!
Comes the hostile demand, but she is short by one forty-nine or five or four or . . .
Triage: sacrifice the medicine. A clutched bag, a rushed retreat, a squeaky door
Slammed. Back to home base. The hungry warriors volunteer silence, shaken
By a muffled sob. Perhaps if they are perfectly still, all will be well again.

II. Regrouping

Calmed, storied, tucked, nearly asleep. She gazes: Am I making gravel
Or carving Davids? The sharp dust her sculpting frees sometimes seals
Her eyes for hours: this is the friendly fire that artisan-commanders feel.
Six years and four, still too early to see the final shapings of her work.
How easy to despair and desert, but this is her enlisted service, urged
By more than duty and patriotic oaths. Strengthen her faith, ease her fear:
There will be more missions tomorrow, and the night watch will be weary.

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