The Quadrant
                                                                                    (Climb 
                                    in, climb out of the little black square) 

            The village rises into form amidst the pines. Cows and goats stand unstunned in
the forest. The Muslim and Christian quarters are made of flimsy wood and storage 
containers. Assemble, disassemble. There is a military technology fair in Orlando where 
you can purchase a village in a box. Then populate it: live inside it for a time. 

            At the beginning of the exercise, the soldier students are told half-truths. They 
must stabilize who and why. 

            While playing market, Nafeesa and Ralia cry out leblabi leblabi, to the soldiers. 
It is that roasted chickpea soup they sell in paper cones in the Middle East. “Win a-
leblabi, u ashgid?” (Where is the leblabi and how much?), I ask. They are so shocked that 
they give me a Coke. 

            Nomi (Numi) means a particular lime from Southern Iraq, particularly Basra, and 
its delicate flavor pervades so much of that cooking. I introduce myself as Nomi Basra, 
and they take me in. 

            POLICE STATION/                       WAILING ROOM 
            JAIL 

            BROKEN-IN                                    MOSQUE/SCHOOL 
            INTERNET CAFÉ 

            One of the Iraqi role-players (Omar) tells me the soldiers don’t know it yet, but all 
the Iraqis in this village are in cahoots with the militia. The game says figure out which 
bodies’ interiors have turned the bright chill of gold. In the classroom behind the imam’s 
chair, a blackboard with drawings—planes sizzling into the building. 

            Omar shows me the knife, scimitar-curved, that hangs on the wall at the police 
station. Descending that knife, he cradles it like a guitar, and plays a song.
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