Robert Ronnow
                                                            Belonging to the Loved Ones

            Operational Culture for the Warfighter

What would be the point, in this first winter snow, of going
back to several of the women whose bodies I have known
and wondering what they thought about all these intervening
years. Inevitably it is their children, illnesses and death.
Their art, their work, community. How their words
enter your ears and stay forever! Rib cage and knee.
How we lay on the beds in our youth and late afternoon light.

At no point will the snow and bare trees stop being
interesting to me. Seven loads of apples went into Jim Kelly's
cider press Saturday afternoon. A paragraph from Wendell
Berry's recent essay was read. Those who felt part of that place
were embraced. Fields of pumpkins, corn to the west
and east. But I remember winter nights hurrying under
elevated subway, Bronx. Alone, unknown, I did not exist.

The point being maybe now I don't exist anymore than in Afghanistan.
A land to be admired, like all lands. How lovely the harsh
mountains and deserts, indigenous plants and people, adapted
ungulates, carnivorous mammals. What is left of them after
10,000 years of human history. Much has been made of the snow
leopard, by Peter Mathiessen. The city of Kabul is understandable
using the very same analysis Jane Jacobs learned from New York City.

At this point I would have to overcome a deepening solitude,
the snow of it falling about my ears, to hear their cries and joys
and understand thanksgiving. Has my father gone to his grave
without saying his one essential thing? He has said it, said it
in war and in preparing boys for war, and in peace and his wife.
Have my lovers gone to their graves already or are they still
in life? I have heard a random, strange selection of their words.

Copyright 2007 by Robert Ronnow.