Journalism In Verse


This Is My Obituary

in Identity by

Sweat sobs out of me
in boxing class, because I live
a life where moving one’s body
is luxury rather than necessity,
where every pound of glove against
bag burns into my muscles;
the sound smacks the air,
and when I want to give up, sit down,
I think of the women in Fort Benning,
the first women to graduate
from infantry training,
in their camouflage and face paint,
who lug the weight of the world,
escape armored vehicles, sleep
in foxholes, wet, tired, hungry, cold,
and do it on purpose. There is nothing basic
about basic training. I relish sovereignty,
the choice of a workout, legs shaking,
weary, slicked with salt,
and standing. When my heart beats
hard, I think of the women who choose
to run away from safety to fight
for freedom, and although they
are called “female infantrymen,” I know
they are infantrywomen, and I vow
to believe in the marvel
of their conviction, to raise daughters
who also believe or might become
the marvel of their conviction, and I punch
the bag again. This is my obituary
for hate. This is my obituary
for weakness. This is my obituary
for the impossible.


Read More:
For Army Infantry’s First Women, Heavy Packs and the Weight of History [New York Times]

Alexandra Umlas is an MFA student in Poetry at California State University, Long Beach. She lives in Huntington Beach, CA.


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