One thing I miss is the cups. The detainees were only allowed to have Styrofoam cups, and they would write and draw all over them. I’m not totally familiar with Muslim culture, but I did learn that they don’t draw the human form, and I’m not positive if they draw any creatures, but they draw a lot of flowers. They would cover the things with flowers. Then we would have to take them. It was a ridiculous process. We would take the cups—as if they were writing some kind of secret message that they were somehow going to throw into the ocean, that would get back to somebody—and send them to our military intelligence. They would just look at these things and then throw them away. I used to love those little cups.—Former Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp guard, Chris Arendt in Lily Pierce’s “What It Feels Like...to Be a Prison Guard at Guantánamo Bay.Esquire Magazine, July 30, 2008.

I asked Chris what he would draw on the cups if he were going to serve Arabic tea in them… He said, “I’d draw flowers for sure… Islamic designs… it’s tough to say.”

Regardless, I know I would like to have Arabic tea in one of those cups along the river—whether it is the north branch of the Chicago or the Euphrates where I dreamed of how connected it all is; the Euphrates to the gulf to the oceans to the rivers to home.


Above Image: “Chris Arendt & Former Detainee Jarallah Al-Marri: Jarallah Al-Marri picked up the little styrofoam cup on the table and nudged Chris. “Look, look!” he said and Chris laughed—it was identical to the ones from Guantanamo.” Photograph by Sarah Mirk Guantanamo Voices, "Styrofoam Flowers," January 16, 2009.