Souvenirs for My Daughters


So little left

Underneath the raised house, many faces just stare ahead.
They don’t even bother to look at us.
They bathe in their pools of paradise. Lost
in that black depth. They do not blink much;
their starved eyes bat once or twice when the flies gather.
And, some do not even trouble themselves at all.
Such absence of nerves do not match my fast-beating heart,
though I am grateful that they don't care
that we are there. They’re so peaceful.
Empty.
When enough is enough,
when life is so saturated with torture,
surrendering is all we can do.
Anything else will just trickle off.

Then the dump trucks arrive, three, perhaps four.
As names are called out, skeletal bodies string
into a line to be booted-up into the trucks’ beds.

Name after name is called
but, ours never come up. I listen and tell myself
to listen harder. Two trucks are filled. And, on the ground, we are still standing.
Hoping and doubting along the way, I look up, pull on my brother’s hand and
whisper, when? I ask when so often that he tightens his grip
to let me know that he is annoyed. After that I quiet down.

When a lady’s name is called, she grabs her two kids’ hands –
one in each of hers – and pulls them toward the waiting truck.
Brother grabs mine tight then pulls,
and we walk into the group.
I understand. They’re family now.

Standing on my toes, I try to look out.
Such exhilaration,
such freedom,
to be finally on the truck’s bed. I smile up to Brother.
He returns my happiness. I think I see our
Pa-pa standing before me,
though I know better. It’s only my brother
with our Pa-pa’s smile.

Many years have since gone by; my brother reveals
the reason for our hasty leaving.
A newly dug-out pit sent us scurrying off.
A grave,
A grave waited for his murdered body
later that evening.

An alert from a friend saved my brother from death.

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