by Abby E. Murray

They schedule a reintegration conference 
at the Doubletree two weeks after we pick you up 
from the Fort Carson gym, your rifles oiled 
and the dead weight of armor locked up 
behind chain-link. For two weeks we reintegrate 
our mouths and hands because there isn’t much to say 
after twelve months of letters. We forget 
there is a colonel until his wife calls to tell us 
the conference is mandatory, ladies included, 
and she thinks the couples’ seminar 
will be especially worth my while.
In the hotel ballroom, a chaplain introduces 
two volunteers: a husband and wife 
who are here to demonstrate three ways 
to be married after Iraq. He says we can use 
the alphabet to identify a healthy marriage. 
The couple stands side by side, bends away 
from each other with their arms up,
and the chaplain says this is a V:
this couple is growing apart, pushing away 
from one another by choosing different paths. 
He has them demonstrate the letter A
a codependent pair who lean forehead to forehead 
and tremble from the effort. If one falls
the other will too. A woman in the row
ahead of me draws a strike through the letter A 
on a notepad. Then, finally, the right choice 
for officers and their wives, a letter H
two people who clasp hands but stand a safe distance 
apart, their spines pointed straight up to heaven. 
They are balanced and he tells them to smile.
The chaplain sends us home with a workbook 
that tells us to report domestic violence.
I fold it in half and use it to scrape snow off the car,
take you home where we practice the letter S
the Y, the L, all of them brought to us by war.