Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Shahé Mankerian: Books

We didn’t go to school
that day because a bomb
was found still ticking near
the cafeteria.

We were euphoric–wild.
Who said war didn’t love
the children? We were free
to zigzag through parked cars,

climb over walls, and move
away from teachers who
pretended that they loved us
with their demonic rods.

We ran toward a dead-
end street where the trash rose
two stories high. The stench
fulfilled our wanderlust.

We stopped. We couldn’t wait
to start a bonfire. Books
of matches surfaced from
each pocket. Ready. Set.

An underfed cat strolled
between our matches and
the heap of trash. Our eyes
were burning. Someone kicked

the belly of the cat.
Another lit the pile
of Al Nahar, and some
fed textbooks to the fire.

We were the amber gods
that day; we turned away
from childhood, faced the smoke,
and screamed much louder than

the cat, the scorching rats,
the maggots fed on flesh;
and louder than the bomb
that stopped ticking at last.

Copyright Shahé Mankerian. Used here by kind permission of the author.

No comments: