Remains

My son wakes up

And calls out to me.

His voice is a wave that

Passes through the wall

That separates us.

A hollow cavity.

And I say coming.

Touch my husband. His

Shoulder. Say going. And

He is rolling over. Asleep.

And away from me. And

I find my son sitting up.

Asking me about the planes.

Two planes. What

Happened to them

After. After

They hit the two towers.

And I say well. Use the

Words slam and pierce or skin.

How I tell him that the nose

Of a plane can slam

Into a tower. Pierce

Through. Through

The skin of it. And

I am saying then.

How then it all crashed down.

Or how three years ago

A piece of one of the planes

Was found. Found between

Two buildings. Twelve years

Later and stuck.

Twelve years my son says

Because that is how long he

Has been alive.

Laying back down. His eyes.

Heavy. Saying good.

How it is good it was found.

But my son is talking about planes.

How he is not thinking about people.

All the people. These human remains.

And he does not know.

Cannot imagine.

How so much of what

Was lost on 9/11 was

Never found. Or how

Almost half.

Half of the people who died

That day

Are still missing. Or how

almost all of the people who

Were found were found

In parts.

A tooth. A hip bone.

Ring finger. A set of

Arms. Knee cap or

How so much of what remains

Is genetic material. Pulverized

Bone.

This I tell myself.

My hand moving

Across the plane

Of my son’s forehead.

As if

My fingers are a wing.

How this is what the word remains means.

How all the people. The dead

And the missing and the parts.

How they are still there.

But how. Still there does not mean not gone.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eclipse

When I met you I was only

Bones

How I wore my bones on

The outside like a

Dress.

And tonight there is a super moon,

The blood moon, this lunar eclipse,

And I go outside to stand in the

Black sea

Of our driveway,

Looking up and

Ankle deep and

How I see part of the moon,

A misshapen moon between

The trees,

Like

A smooth and white patella

Bone,

A kneecap moon, I whisper

To our children, asleep and

For you, because you are away,

In a hotel room in New York City,

Thirty years, you are saying to

Me, over the telephone, now,

How this moon will not

Happen again for thirty

Years,

But nothing does, I tell

You, how nothing does,

And this is our marriage,

The moon outside or

How the years wrap like

Vessels around muscle

And tendon and, yes,

Bone,

Around us,

Around

All of the times I have heard

You say no and, then, yes,

And your voice is made of words,

Syllables and letters that connect

And break apart and reassemble

Like atoms,

Protons and neutrons,

Or us, I say,

How the years wrap around

Us,

Because how many times,

How many times has your

Hand reached for my face

In the dark,

Countless,

Like stars,

But how each time, each time

Is like the moon,

Only once and

Never again

The same.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Migrate

At the pond

We see frogs,

Hundreds, my son says,

How there are so many

Frogs, as we walk past

The pond,

Or how they are small,

Maybe two centimeters,

Or how their bodies look

Like stones,

Until they

Move,

Their bodies,

Wet and moving,

And everywhere

On this sidewalk,

The road, or how

The grass between

Here

And the edge of the pond

Is full,

Full of them.

Later, we read about

These frogs, how they

Are called spring peepers

Or pseudacris crucifer,

A small chorus frog,

How they breed in ponds

And how they climb out,

Together,

And in groups,

Hundreds of them,

Moving like that,

Out of the pond

And to somewhere else.

Where, my son asks me,

Because he is in bed and

He is asking me,

Asking about the frogs,

Where they will go or

If they will survive,

And I tell him about

Amphibian development,

How frogs migrate

From one breeding pond

To some place else, how

It is biological, using the

Word habitat,

Saying want,

How the frogs want to go,

Which is different,

I say, to myself, but

Not to my son, who

Is falling asleep now,

How it is different from

Humans or what happens

To people who live

In a country torn

Apart

By war,

How they have to go,

How it is called conflict induced displacement,

A forced migration,

How there are more,

More than fifty million

Refugees in this world

Who are forced, forced

To leave their homes,

Their cities or countries

And lives

Or how tomorrow,

Tomorrow I will go

To the pond,

And it will be quiet or

Still,

How I will see them,

The frogs that died,

That did not make it,

Their bodies on the

Pavement,

Dried out

Now,

By the sun,

Bodies

Flat and like

An imprint

Or dust,

Barely there or

Almost gone.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Horn

The house is growing

Dark

When I drive up

Our driveway and sit

In my car, this night

Spreading

Out around me, and

I can see

The house and

My husband who

Is standing near

The window,

Pulling the curtain

Closed,

Or how the shadow

Of him is moving,

Moving across the room,

Where he is shutting off

Lights

Before coming to the front

Door and waiting for me,

Waiting for me to come

Inside

And tell him yes,

Because he wants to go

Again,

Go away to Somalia or

Kenya,

The Horn of Africa,

To help he says, or

How I said no.

And I am standing

On this front step,

Facing him,

And I do not have to turn

Around to know,

Know that this is what night

Looks like after it has fallen,

Or that I will not change

My mind,

Because,

Because he has already gone

To war,

Because, in Kabul,

A woman was stoned to death,

How the men dragged her body

Down to the bed of a river and

Lit it on fire,

While people watched and

Because the Horn of Africa

Feels like more,

More war,

More violence,

More terror,

More people gunned down,

Armed militia and tanks and

Men and women and children

Dying,

And we are here, moving

Through this house, this

Conversation again, how

We are here,

Standing in this hallway

Again,

How this hallway is the

Artery of our house, how

It runs down the center

Of the house and us and

I am saying more,

How it feels like

More of a chance

He will go over there and

Die this time,

Or how we hear our son

Moving,

Moving in the other room,

In this darkness, and I turn

To my husband,

Saying your turn,

How it is his turn

This time,

And this is the part

Where my husband

Will go,

Lay next to him,

Our son,

Who

Thinks about words

He cannot say, or

How my husband

Is whispering,

Whispering to him

Whispering the words

Love and

You and

Our son,

Who is five years old,

Reaches his hand out

To touch his father’s

Face,

Saying yes,

And the word,

His word yes,

Is a note, this

Unexpected note,

A whole note,

That hangs in the air,

And I am on the other

Side of a wall,

Lying in our bed,

Imagining a horn,

Metal and gold

Colored and brass

With a bell on one

End,

That flowers,

Open,

Or how there are

Buttons, buttons

But no sound,

No noise,

No fingers,

No wrist or

Arm,

Or how the body

Of the horn curves

Like my body or

The body of country

And how the Horn of Africa

Is a group of countries and

How the land flares out,

There, shaped like a horn,

And how I know that

A country can be like

This,

A beautiful instrument

I do not know how to play.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fill

I am standing in the kitchen

When I hear him,

My hands and arms,

Wrist deep,

In a sink full of water,

And my son is crying,

My son,

Who is five years old

Now,

But cannot speak,

Not more than two,

Two words at a time,

How he comes to me

Crying,

Saying okay,

Which is what he says

When he is upset and

This time, this time,

I do not know

What it is, and

He cannot tell me,

And I hold him,

Hold his body

Against my body,

As if proximity, or

How close we are

Can change things,

And I tell him,

I know,

Even though I don’t,

I don’t know, or how

I keep saying sorry,

The word sorry,

As if it can make it

Better.

Later,

It will grow dark

In this house,

And our children

Will sleep, and

I will try to tell

My husband what

Happened,

And he will say no,

Or stop,

Because he already knows,

Or because I don’t have to,

And we will walk

Across these rooms,

My husband and I,

Down this hallway,

Through that door,

Until we are here,

Lying, in our bed,

Talking instead about

Afghanistan,

The terrible things

That happen when

There is war, and

We are searching,

Searching for one

Another, our two

Bodies, heavy, and

Here, searching for

A word that can describe

The things that happen

To civilians in war,

The things that the military

Pays for, pays Afghan civilians

For their loss,

How it is called battle damage,

Or condolence pay, 

And solatia, how

There is a database

That keeps track,

One arm gone,

A car blown up,

A house destroyed,

A man shot, woman

Killed, seven cows,

Two legs,

The dead child.

This feels impossible,

I whisper to my husband,

In this darkness, how it

Feels impossible to know,

Know how much Afghans

Have lost in this war, or

How it is impossible to

Add up loss, or

To make it go

Away,

Because

Loss is a hole

That we try to

Fill up with

Words.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Matter

My older son is looking

For the quotient,

Because he is doing math

And it is a problem

Of division,

And I tell him how the total

Number can be divided into

Parts

And how, sometimes, sometimes

There is a remainder.

And I am thinking about my husband

Who is gone, deployed, to Afghanistan,

A country where men and women and

Children and roads and bombs and the

Risk of getting killed or having to kill is

Added together and the danger

Is multiplied.

And I only tell my children parts,

How he flew on a military cargo

Airplane to Turkey and then to

Kabul, how he slept on a bunk

In a transient berthing station

On a base next to the airport

And how, how I don’t say the

Other parts,

How I have not heard from him

In over two days,

Or how the airport is where

Three men were shot,

Dead,

Last week,

By a man wearing the uniform

Of the Afghan National Army.

And my younger son can only

Say a few words

Even though he is five years old.

And he is saying hello and daddy’s car

Because he cannot say anything else

And because the driveway is half empty.

Now it is night

And this day is

Already splitting

Into tomorrow

And my children

Are asleep or how

What they know is

Only a part of what

The world will teach them,

And I am standing, here, in

This hallway watching them,

And their bodies are still and

Alive and whole,

Like atoms,

How they are the smallest

Units of matter, how they

Are the smallest units that

Matter.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Structure

My son is sitting

At the kitchen table

Talking about the textual structures

He learned about in school, or how

There is description and sequencing

Or cause and effect and

Problem and solution,

And how sometimes they overlap,

Overlap on top of one another to

Tell a story, he says.

And I am taking plates out of the sink

And putting them in the dishwasher,

Telling my son that

Words are like worlds,

How you have to walk around them

To see, I say, to see what they mean,

And I am looking for paper,

A piece of paper,

So we can make a list, I tell him,

Opening a notebook,

My husband’s, or how

I see it,

His handwriting and the words

Police and range and shooting

And how I know,

I know now, know

That this is mandatory training,

That he is going to go back,

And that

Going back will be more, more

Than what he has described to

Me, rolling over, in our bed,

To face me, saying,

It is safe, and how

It is only a week, or

Maybe two,

And he is telling me how

He does not see problems

In Afghanistan, how he sees

Solutions instead, and how

He wants to make a difference,

And I say, yes, tell him,

I understand, that I understand

That he has to go, because I do.

But I can picture it again,

The sequence of war,

The order of how he

Will put on his uniform,

The camouflage uniform,

The boots and body armor,

A belt around his waist or

How he will carry it, carry

The gun they will give him,

The M9,

A pistol,

That he will wear on his belt,

The one he will shoot, shoot,

Shoot if he has to,

At close range, or

What it means,

The roads and the cars and

The bombers and the IEDs,

The cause or the effect of it,

All the danger and the death,

How I do not know anymore,

Which comes first, and

How words are like that,

The words we say and

The ones we don’t,

How sometimes, sometimes

Words can mean more than

One thing,

And I am turning towards him,

Our son, with a piece of paper

In my hand, saying I am ready,

Or how, later, I will turn the knob

To the door of our bedroom, and

How I will try to turn on the light,

And when it does not turn on,

I will feel my way through this,

The darkness of it,

The structure of

This moment we have not had yet,

Where I am climbing into our bed,

Whispering where are you?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment