She had no one. All her family had been gassed by Saddam Hussein and she had run like many children in a desperate sprint from her village to fresh air. Like the others, she had gone blind and they had all roped them selves together and tortuously reached aid. Her sight returned. The Kurdish army had never allowed women a combat role, but ISIS was terrified at the thought of being killed by women and tumbling to hell. The Kurds assembled four brigades of women.
Sand-colored fatigues only highlighted her youth. When General Fatih came for an inspection, he paused before her, intuitively. He put his hand on her shoulder. "Study well", he said very quietly. "Are you putting your rifle away carefully, after drill?" He had four children, two of them daughters.
Kurdistan's independence stood poised on the edge of a blade of grass. If the Turks did not close the Kurdish oil pipeline, if the eager American oil companies brought the pressure the Kurds needed to get the weapons the Americans refused to give, as they pressed the Kurdish government to remain part of Iraq. If ISIS did not obliterate them as Saddam had tried.
Two weeks after the inspection, the brigade was wakened at 4 A.M. Dila's lieutenant, a stout woman of forty, told them ISIS was probing not twenty miles away. They dressed quickly, retrieved their AK-47's from their racks.
A grassy hill overlooked the town. ISIS would be lured away from its civilians by the gunfire of the women's peshmerga, and forced to climb in assault. The women heard the cars and trucks approaching. Three women fired grenade launchers. The lead trucks exploded, and the black clad troops leaped out behind the smoke and fire, and rushed forward, enraged.
Dila stood. She took off her cap, untied her hair. Her lieutenant, furious, barked. Dila shook her hair, long and rich. The men rushing upward saw her and were horrified. She lay down flat and opened fire.
Charles Bane, Jr. is the American author of The Chapbook ( Curbside Splendor, 2011) and Love Poems (Kelsay Books, 2014). His work was described by the Huffington Post as "not only standing on the shoulders of giants, but shrinking them." Creator of The Meaning Of Poetry series for The Gutenberg Project, he is a current nominee as Poet Laureate of Florida.