A female soldier in Iraq is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. —Representative Jane Harman

Whether it’s my spit-polished boots, the crease
In my trouser, the belt buckle shine, the helmet
Still unscuffed,

Whether it’s my callused heel, the strength
In my thigh, the straightness of my neck, my hair
Buzz cut,

Whether it’s the slow rhythm of my heart, the steadiness
Of my hand, the timbre of my voice, my eyes
Straight and unblinking,

It’s hard to tell.
My uniform is camouflage.
My rank is private.

I knew going in I was outnumbered,
That boys can be boys,
That training builds testosterone.

Army fatigues, baggy enough for easy movement,
Hide crotches, as if the company knew one day (not today)
It wouldn’t matter and from behind

Standing at attention, or at ease,
Or saluting, or running with my rifle,
What’s underneath isn’t a factor
Like eyes on the other side
Of the line, too far to see, to make it easier.

At night, in the barracks, undressed,
I sometimes wake and walk the floor
Bare foot, the only time I’m alone.

I sit to pee.
And that’s the difference
Or the start of the difference that starts things.