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Girl Soldier

She sat beside me on the bus

soldier girl from basic training

rifle clasped between her knees

the road was long to Tel Aviv

a popular tune wailed from

loudspeakers set into the stained ceiling

a weak fan fought against the desert heat.


We did not exchange a word

she less than half my age plugged into

her own earphone wire snaking down

inside her uniform.  Somewhere before

Beer Sheva she fell asleep and as the bus

turned at a junction her head fell on

my shoulder, a lock of corn-colored hair

tickled my neck.


I could have woken her pushed her away

but feeling fatherly left her there until

the journey’s end.  She jerked awake lifted

her head picked up her gun and khaki duffel bag

stood up straightened her shirt and still without

a word joined other soldiers leaving the bus.


My shoulder ached but somehow felt so proud

that she had chosen it.

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© Johnmichael Simon



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