Ruby Alexandra Beloz

DESERT EYES

We were out on patrol
Securing another building
When I opened the door
An Iraqi man was lying dead on the floor
There was a little boy crying next to him
Holding his father who was no more
Just them; the boy and I met
Our eyes became targets for each other’s next move

The little boy held his father’s gun
I pointed my weapon towards his head
I said son it doesn’t have to end
Please put down your gun
Not knowing if he understood what I said

For that moment I was no longer a Soldier
But a man who could of been this boy’s dad

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: August 16, 2003
Awarded: August 16, 2003
So I lowered my weapon to remove his fear
I looked into this boys Iraqi eyes
I asked God to please help me and give me a sign
So I looked back at the boy
Deep into his desert eyes

But the boy would not lower his father’s gun
Instead he pointed directly for my head
I asked God for another sign
So I said the one word I thought he would understand

“Papa”

And the boys’ eyes lit up
I asked God for yet another sign
I thought God whispered to me to have faith
So I dropped my weapon
And I reached out my arms
The little boy began to weep
He didn’t drop his father’s gun
But he no longer had it pointed it at me

Our eyes met for the first time
I asked God for yet another sign
So I put my arms around the little boy
That’s when this child began to cry

I noticed he dropped his father’s gun
The rest of that night I held him in my arms
I held that boy as if he were mine
As I looked into his desert eyes

I felt his heart beating next to mine
I felt this child’s grieve for his dead dad

So I held him really tight
And that’s when God gave me the last sign
The language of the heart needs no words

The next morning I took the boy back to our camp
We never saw each other again
But I will never forget Iraq or his desert eyes
Or the kiss on my cheek that he gave me
When we said goodbye.