Darkness from Tarin Kowt

That year I spent in Tarin Kowt
in the heart of the Taliban
“Shadow Governors” from the Popalzai tribe
their black robes, henna beards and body odor

We venture into the city’s heart
for a shura that would never be

The suicide bomber who would be the
darkness harbinger on his motorbike
That darkness creeps an inch closer
He anticipates his chance to strike, as I sense his shadow

My rounds strike him in his lungs and heart
He missed his chance this time yet he remains by my side
not willing to give me up easily

Sadness is the color of my blue eyes,
that my soul a darkness is distant and foreboding

My heartbeat is the sound I don’t want anyone to hear
pumping fear and anger on my pillows
in the morning before I drink my first cup of coffee

After Tarin Kowt I can never be myself again and unguarded
My darkness smells like sweet-salty sweat that makes animals uneasy
like doors slamming, and a falling feeling while sleeping

I feel nothing afterward but darkness
Darkness is the color I paint on a colorless canvas
knowing more missions are to follow

Why am I here? Whiskey burn, blood shot eyes,
easing into my inebriation

Sirens causing me to react to contact —
seeking cover, toes pointed to target
and feeling the rush
dancing with darkness once again
I realize I have no fear

Once again I see my darkness
clinging to me at every turn
As before his taunts are unrelenting
his motor humming in the shadows

Author: Adam Carson

Adam Carson is a retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel, now a professor at Command and General Staff College, Fort Gordon, Georgia-Satellite campus. He served two tours in Iraq, starting with the 2003 invasion, and two tours in Afghanistan, his last with 2d Stryker Cavalry Regiment.

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