The Humanitarian

This time I am in Iraq
at the end of the dry time.
The irrigation canals beside the road
run brown and slow,
feeding a crop of discarded water bottles
and Military Checkpoint gardens.

I adjust my headscarf and keep my gaze low as we pass,
becoming an expert on soldiers from thigh to waist
and nothing more.

In Hawija, at the hospital,
we pause our conversations at the pop of bombs:
small sounds for the most part
that do not seem as if they kill.

Now, after another death,
I leave the table and look out into the gentle night.
Tears drip silently onto what should be helping hands:
rain from my heart.


About Cassandra Arnold

Cassandra Arnold is a doctor with Doctors Without Borders. She lives in Canada and writes fiction and poetry. She is on the web at
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