A Sea of Poppies

 How had it happened that when choosing the men and women who were to be torn from this subjugated plain, the hand of destiny had stayed so far inland, away from the busy coastlines, to alight on the people who were, of all, the most stubbornly rooted in the silt of the Ganga, in a soil that had to be sown with suffering to yield its crop of story and song? It was as if fate had thrust its fist through the living flesh of the land in order to tear away a piece of its stricken heart.
–Amitav Ghosh, Sea of Poppies

A British soldier keeps watch while on foot patrol in a poppy field in Musa Qala, Helmand province, Afghanistan on March 28, 2009.
A British soldier keeps watch while on foot patrol in a poppy field in Musa Qala, Helmand province, Afghanistan on March 28, 2009.

‘O Sea-Starved, Sand Sailor

THAT crazed girl improvising her music.
Her poetry, dancing upon the shore,

Her soul in division from itself
Climbing, falling She knew not where,
Hiding amid the cargo of a steamship,
Her knee-cap broken, that girl I declare
A beautiful lofty thing, or a thing
Heroically lost, heroically found.

No matter what disaster occurred
She stood in desperate music wound,
Wound, wound, and she made in her triumph
Where the bales and the baskets lay
No common intelligible sound
But sang, ‘O sea-starved, hungry sea
–W.B. Yeats

Hospital Corpsman Shannon Crowley, 22, patrols in a bazaar as an Afghan man rides by on Nov. 15 in Musa Qala, Afghanistan.
Hospital Corpsman (HM) Shannon Crowley, 22, patrols in a bazaar as an Afghan man rides by on Nov. 15 in Musa Qala, Afghanistan.

And a certificate for the Order of the Sand Sailor from TIffany Publishing.