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Ode for Amy

Amy Donahue
Fort Worth, Texas

Army, Specialist - Paralegal
Tikrit, Iraq 7/07–7/08
Baghdad, Iraq 3/10–2/11
Bagram, Afghanistan 2/11-5/12

100 Faces of War Exhibit

Roll call. You know the drill. And even now
you paint more than the painter can
the story we should know. Clear eyed, salon-styled
hair, civilian clothes. An aura around you like some after-glow

of a time, a record, a narrative, a myth, a place that
for your sake – or for our sakes – you’d rather not be told.
In your denim jacket, trim black leotard below, you could be
any woman; you could be all the women we have known.

Around your neck, not tags, but a pendant in the shape
of the state of Texas – home like a tarnished puzzle piece.
Apparel and accessories you picked for this, for the portraitist,
as if to signal in familiar code: a new self has been birthed –

or perhaps it is just costume for a pose. In Homer’s Odyssey,
Athena was the epic’s champion pretender; master of disguise,
an Ithacan among the Ithacans. Better this way to shepherd home
the troops, to arbitrate the terms for a man reentering and more

alone than he has ever been in his own home – a soul-sick Odysseus.
What did Athena know that made her call a truce, even absolve
Odysseus for murdering his maids? What did she whisper
in our epic hero’s ear – hero more comfortable in a beggar’s

clothes – that buoyed him, returned him to his wife
and son and dog? Here in disguise, another Ithacan,
you must have made the same pact with the gods: Ithaca lives,
but only so long as beggars in disguise can make the laws.


Copyright © 2018  M. B. McLatchey. All rights reserved.
Published in  Arts&Sciences, a MOAS publication in association with the Smithsonian Institution,Winter 2019

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