Just A Drill

Time to write poems, the children
and I dive for words, plumb depths
to where oil seeps, remains of primeval creatures
who roamed our planet before air grayed,
before earth began to shrink.

Though I suggest snow or salamanders,
the feel of an anemone squeezing the tip
of your finger, feeling peril, a young boy writes
If Hitler once existed,
could there be another like him?

“Is that a simile?” he asks. He scribbles on

about desire, how civilizations have been destroyed
by desire and he’s only eleven.
His second poem is about something else,
he says, not nuclear attack this time.
Tell no one, he whispers. I read the title,
“How I Suffer.” Don’t say it aloud, he begs.

His words worry about his family,
if they will live when the world explodes.
His wheat colored hair scatters every direction
as if he hasn’t slept for days. I tell him not to worry,

and worry I am wrong, tell him he is very bright
and brave to write his fears. All children worry
about war, the big one coming, the little ones
crammed between recess and history.

We used to dive under desks to the bell’s blare,
check tin bracelets making sure our names were there
before we crunched up like anemones, like fetuses
against the cold metal legs so our parents could find us,
but it was just a drill and we crawled out

and went on to make a living. This child
would now be twenty-two, could be serving
almost anywhere: Iraq, Afghanistan. Time.
I pray he is still living, suffers less, unlikely--
his question answered, off record.

(c) Perie Longo

In Kerf, 2012.



Perie Longo
Looking for Jamal

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