By Naomi Shihab Nye
Yesterday you cried in the car when you said soldiers in that war asked if women were fair game and the leaders said, "Yes, fair game, do anything you want to them." My own throat filled up when you said the woman you are loving now asks you please to say more sweet things to her. We passed battered barns and bushes, every license plate said OREGON in one color or another. We passed the rest stop planted with trees of all the 50 states. The really hot sunny states were having trouble. Access roads and overpasses, stores selling all manner of useless things. I watched the seam of your cheek as you spoke, we named people we had loved that the other would never know, they were clues to the road. We talked about the ugly words hurled at women for centuries, how they all have a click-shut sound, and why is it some lives feel hard as a curb that you kick. And how they could be softened. I told you about Coleman, on the night he was robbed, saying, "How long do you stay robbed once you've been robbed? I think I'm getting over it" - and Susan, later, translating "robbed" into "raped" and weeping with joy - how long it takes anybody to get over, get under, get out, shout.