At the airport in Nevada, security staff
politely inspect some suspect items
packed inside my suitcase — gifts I bought
for a friend who couldn’t come with me
to Bryce Canyon and the tribal reservations.
It seems the culprit is an 8-ounce package
of authentic Indian fry bread mix
which may appear through an x-ray scanner
to be gunpowder or a pouch of anthrax.
As two officials duly puzzle over
my goodwill purchases, I think of
the, those loyal men
whose intricate native tongue
saved our Allied cause, won for us
the Pacific war. No foreigner has ever
deciphered their secret lexicon.
I remember that the tour guide told us
how the code breakers disguised
each usage of the English “bombs”–
by pronouncing instead
their Navajo word for “eggs.”
Eggs or bombs? Weapons or food?
Friendship, hatred, or the call of duty–
even in one language, hard to tell apart.
by Therese L. Broderick
(An artist’s statement about this poem appears as the first comment.)