“The She-Devil of Abu Ghraib”, “Visible Witness” by William Kelley Woolfitt

The She-Devil of Abu Ghraib
The reporters say the trailers of Ashby,
she’s from there, from gravel road, dirt yard,
7-Eleven and Dairy Dip, subsidized cheese,
squirrels, mud, Bronco lights, sheep farms.
She says, I grew up on gung-ho movies.
The reporters have hunches and theories.
Her family tells them she and her sister
shot pop guns, played cops and robbers,
she and Jimmy Fike married at nineteen,
got chicken plant jobs, her in Marination,
him in Debone. When the reporters ask her
about the photographs, the naked prisoners,
her cigarette smile, her thumbs up, she says
They were the enemy. I can’t think of words.

Visible Witness
        1959: Mead, Nebraska

A wood paling fence to climb, a tangle of wire
to belly under, a continental launcher to oppose,
a road to sit down in, a concrete truck to block,
a construction site to vigil, a sign to letter in red:
There come times when we must use action
to break the hard crust of inertia and custom,
when Wilmer Young must drive to Omaha, pray
and fast with the protestors camping by the gates
to Mead Ordnance Base.
                      In letters to his children,
he says he does not yet know what he will do.
To halt oblivion, the devouring of what he loves,
he tents in a field of rose mallow and clover.

William Woolfitt is the author of three poetry collections: Beauty Strip (Texas Review Press, 2014), Charles of the Desert (Paraclete Press, 2016), and Spring Up Everlasting (Mercer University Press, 2020). His fiction chapbook The Boy with Fire in His Mouth (2014) won the Epiphany Editions contest judged by Darin Strauss. He edits Speaking of Marvels, a blog that features interviews with authors of chapbooks, novellas, and books of assorted lengths.