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Lisa Rhodes

(Born 1962 / Manhattan, New York City)

Destination: Army Boot Camp 1991

At 29, I joined the Army,
leaving home for boot camp
on Halloween. The TWA jet
I climbed on was overused
and pressed for service.

The flight to Fort Leonard Wood
stretched out my arms holding:
my lunch, sense of humor, tampons
and 'Glamour' which I purchased
at the kiosk while gathering
with four recruits at the airport.

We spoke about why do you want to be
in the Army to what are they
going to do to us when we get there.

The plane almost crashed
coming down like a pregnant
woman after riding on an exhausted
elavator, gasping in between floors.

I carried my Slim Fast
drink hidden in a large suitcase
on rollers, packed with cosmetics
and anticipated an interrogation
as I heard voices
on the bus explain
what was supposed to happen next.

Young women in military
green appeared wearing black boots
with their hair strapped back
shining in high gloss.
Guys in BDU'S strutted about
as I sat inside the reception
area waiting
for the beginning
of a long drawn out
drama with one act
that lasted 8 weeks.

After completion, I bussed to
San Antonio, Texas
stationed at Fort Sam Houston.
Was this the long anticipated
camping trip meant to teach me
the meaning of country girl?

Determination made me
bring home an empty grenade
to practice throwing
on Christmas leave.
I was training with women
who could throw a grenade
as if they were a running back
on the All-Star team.

Wake up reveille
was 4: 00 a.m.
I first split into
my shorts & t-shirt,
tidy up my bed,
brush my teeth
and sneak a 10 minute meditation:
a last cry for mercy
from this faceless woman
I had carved out of my flesh & bone.

Submitted: Sunday, November 04, 2007
Edited: Friday, April 22, 2011

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