“Where Was I”

by Kai Zwiebel

(“Where Was I” mobile version)

She ran and ran and
until her lungs sagged, her knees cracked
the PTIs said she was behind in time and she needed
to be the best.
She lifted, then planned, squatted, then planned, filled out papers, and
planned her diet, her rigorous training,
her appointments and PFTs.

At 2AM when she panicked and sobbed that she wouldn’t get to go to OCS
that summer
she called me and I assured her that
she would not get into a car accident or catch COVID-19.
At 2PM she called me and cried that maybe they would
realize she wasn’t as good as they thought and disqualify her
even though she was already booked for a flight to Quantico
that was leaving the next day.

She asked me for my date of birth, city of birth, proof of citizenship, passport-
my entire identity needed to be laid bare since I wasn’t lucky enough to be born in the country more important to her
than life itself.
and then ignored me for days when I refused to give her so much
information during a time uncertainty was more familiar than sunlight.

But she buried my fear in photographs of her new hair styles, boots, military gear
and I agreed to help her study her new language, jargon, the way she shows respect to those
above her, flashcard after flashcard I quizzed her

and I wrote her handwritten letters that she could read
when she was thousands of miles away
covered in muck.

and for just a moment
as I told her goodbye
I thought I was OK.