For Memorial Day, “The Trade,” by Karen S. Elliott


The Trade

By Karen S. Elliott

Inspired by Kristi P-L, USAF, Iraq 2009-2010


She packed up her comfy jeans and laying-around T-shirts

She shrugs into a heavy canvas uniform, now her second skin

Boxed up her peep-toe high heels and sandals and stacked them away

Now all she’s got are dusty high-top boots with heavy tread

No delicate black eyeliner around lovely hazel eyes

Just smudges of purple, her badges of fatigue

No long showers here, nope

Just unshaved legs so she looks like the rest of the troops

Forget salon haircuts with mousse or gel

In marches a permanent helmet-head hairdo

She strains to remember how lovely that last manicure felt

Handling weapons with broken, scraggy fingernails, unpolished and blunt

Velvety cosmetic powder abandoned at home

She wears the Iraqi desert upon her face

Late night chat-fest nights with friends of her choosing, no more

Now, it’s early morning wake-up and drill

No delicate sparkling pendants around her neck

Just a dull metal chain with tags that identify her blood type

While mother’s comforting shoulder and soothing touch wait at home

She learns combat strategies and how to react to roadside bombs

Instead of cradling a tiny baby

She shrugs into a burdened flak jacket that hides her girlish figure

She rolls out with a loaded M4 and a 9mm Beretta.


Filed under For The Troops, Prose & Poetry, Special Events

8 responses to “For Memorial Day, “The Trade,” by Karen S. Elliott

  1. Karoline Stock

    Well said, Karen. Please wish a “Happy Veteran’s Day” to Kenton and Chris from me!

  2. That’s a trade not many of us would have the guts to make. Thank you, Kristi, and thank you, Karen, for sharing this with us.

  3. The reality of a deployed soldier — not one many of us would choose to embrace. Important post to share. Thank you!

  4. Thanks, Karen, for always remembering our wonderful troops!
    They give – and sacrifice – much more than most of us will ever know.

  5. I “met” Kristi via a FB connection with my son while he was in Iraq in 2009-2010. Kristi left behind a baby, not even crawling, to go to Iraq. I felt a connection to her, wondering how she felt, wondering what she missed. Though I ached for my son, his wife, and his boys, I was especially sad for Kristi. She missed so much in that first year of her son’s life.

  6. Yes, this touched me. Melancholic yet defiant, in a way. I try to put myself in her place, and I can’t. I could give up the mascara, but not the mothering…

  7. Karen this is deeply moving. I can only imagine the strength some people have to offer themselves to save the rest of us.
    I think you should have a week of poetry etc. to pay tribute to all those who fight for freedom around the world.

  8. Thank you, Pamela and Shirani. And Shirani – great idea about a week of poetry as tribute…gonna put that on my calendar somewhere.

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