Return to Permafrost Issue 38.2

When I Can’t Sleep

by  Joshua Morgan Folmar


the lines of my wife’s body no longer remind me of how the Blue Ridge meets the sky
at dusk outside my grandfather’s cabin. Instead, I see the moon in decrescendo–
waxing through the palm fronds in a grove next to the Euphrates.
But it’s snowing outside, and it’s been six years since the war.
 
So I pull out my phone from beneath the pillow–
Google: Palm Groves
Haditha Dam
Euphrates

 
Al Jazeera headlines the Devil’s Triangle of Al Anbar–Fallujah, Haditha, & Ramadi–
is in the loving hands of some terror organization.
 
My little sister is growing up without me. I gripe to the policeman while we eat
at the Traffic Control Point on Haditha’s outskirts. He laughs at the mustache I’m growing
to emulate the salt-and-pepper one he wears. It covers some of the scars on his face.
But we don’t talk about who we were before the war, or who sharpens and wields the knives
that cut us.
 
I saw him again tonight.
But not in that picture of us smiling–even though I am gaunt with dysentery.
He is laid down in a video, on his stomach in the middle of the soccer stadium
that doubled as a landing zone.
 
If you click the link, follow along as the camera
makes a nice cut to the back of his head,
blindfolded.
 
But understand, you can’t just be a witness in the execution. We’re all participants.
And the man holding the pistol: maybe that’s me.
Or maybe, it’s my wife dreaming, curled up like our cat who is perched on my chest,
staring down at me with contempt–
Not because I have to shoot this man in the back of the head. That’s war.
It’s just that nobody wants to lug the bodies to the mass grave afterwards.

 
On my phone, I am across the world, lying in bed and trying to sleep.
So I search: How do you stop writing about Iraq?
Or if that is too much for you:
Did Marilyn Monroe ever make a sex tape?