Angela Peacock


that Polaroid of me

squatting, feet and hands in wet dirt,             4 years old

learning to plant tomatoes with Grandpa

wispy blonde strands tucked neatly behind each ear 


no one told me

when I grew up I would go to war

and see a blue-eyed Kurdish girl             4 years old

my sky blue eyes        looking back at her

standing in sun-burned sand, barefoot

putting hand to mouth, crying to me for food


The truth is, I’ve never had one. I tried to find myself in my father’s carpentry boots. I would lace them up and clomp through the living room to look for approval in his sun-weathered eyes. I looked for my future in my high school boyfriend’s plaid sheets, beer-slurred midnight talks about red rocks and Arizona sunset, far enough away for us to run away from our broken childhoods. I came of age in the U.S. Army. I was blue-eyed, blonde-haired, naïve and fearless, with a black rifle trigger finger, curse words dripping from my mouth. I yearned for life to continue after near-death deployment to Iraq, after seeing humanity twist onto itself while looting Babylon’s children. I left a piece of myself in that sand. I married in hopes that it would heal the way my government betrayed all of us. I divorced from sick, prescription-addicted rage, the girl who no longer recognized herself in mirrors. PTSD fires all over the apartment. Screams to my dad that I needed rehab.

When I no longer have bookends separating “life before war” and “life after war-” then I will find home.

Angela Peacock

Angela Peacock served in the US Army from 1998-2004, when she was medically retired as a Sergeant after one deployment to Baghdad, Iraq. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis with goals to become a Social Worker (MSW) to help other veterans who struggle with PTSD and/or substance abuse and dependence. She has published poetry with Spacecraft Projects, and an essay in Huffington Post. Angela is a national advocate for veterans' issues and won the Courage Award in 2015 from Wounded Warrior Project.