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


But cannot speak,

Not more than two,

Two words at a time,

How he comes to me


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



It will grow dark

In this house,

And our children

Will sleep, and

I will try to tell

My husband what


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


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



Loss is a hole

That we try to

Fill up with


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