To whom else does a man write on a day like this? Not to his son – there are no lessons or answers to give. Not to his mother – she would only weep. Not to a friend – he already knows. He writes to his woman – because she forgives.
I should write to you about how you have kept me alive. I should say that these nights, I only fall asleep if I synchronize my lungs to yours. You breathe like the Moonlight Sonata. At first slowly, softly, like a butterfly on my lips. Then, because I can’t fall asleep unless I am inside you, your breathing changes, now like a humming bird’s wings under my hands. Your body rises and trembles, and yet you never leave my lips. You hold on to them, as I breathe the air that you create faithfully. And that’s when it happens. For a blind instant, your breathing stops and it becomes a single word. My name. That’s how you come. That’s how you go. With my name on your lips, blindly, maddeningly, and for me alone.
As you fall asleep, your breathing slows. Deepens. I feel an instant of jealousy for whatever dream pulls you away from me. But your lungs let in and out a steady airflow, as if they know that without it, I am nothing. It takes 15 of your breaths for me to fall asleep.
I should write to thank you for breathing… But instead, I write to add to the burden that you already carry on your delicate alabaster shoulders (I have kissed them a thousand times).
It’s done, love. Baghdad is razed to the ground. Only 35 out of 650 animals in the zoo survive. Almost 170,000 Mesopotamian artifacts are missing from the National Museum. The National Library and all manuscripts over 7,000 years old burned down. I don’t know how many men, women, or children are dead, or how many of them from my hand.
Yet, there was a moment I reveled in it. We raided a marble palace with golden doors. You may have seen it on TV. That is where Saddam’s son, Uday, lived. Marble, gold, silk, milk-filled pools. Around it, homes with no running water. Stray dogs. Children playing soccer with an American helmet quoting Joshua 1:9, For the Lord my God is with me wherever I go. Blood danced in my veins as we stormed the golden doors. I laughed at the carnage. I whistled as we searched for bodies in the marble ruins, hoping one of them was alive so I could end him myself.
Marshall asks God for forgiveness, but I have no God with me, I have only you. Still, every man needs an altar. Mine is the taste of your lips and the glow of your skin. And your soft eyes that are neither tearful, nor sad. They sparkle with the light of open doors. The only doors that welcome someone like me. I suppose this letter is my knock. And because you are not real, you let me in.