Tuesday, December 23, 2008

what’s always real, part 1

what’s always real


this is where the circle starts
inescapably in us

The U.S. Airforce bombers
overfly Taiwan’s neutral shores
in March 1944
—no threat’s there—

The drone of giant locusts
wide as the sky but invisible
over Tainan, the city of scholars.
Then whistling screams
higher, louder,
then bombs splashed
solid houses into waves
like circles in water,
but water on fire.
The city blazed into black spires,
shockwaves pounded the air
shaking even the narrow mountain road
where the little girl my mother was
watched over her father’s shoulder
as he ran with terrorized crowds
hoping the bombers would pass
but listening through the engine roars
for the very first blast—

it rained black fire,
broke her eardrums
as they fell together in the ditch
where he shielded all of her,
not hearing but feeling
what exploded near his bones.
Even dust caught fire—
trees were half-painted red and black
with blood, parts of people—
the sooty shells stank
of burning metal.

The quietest sounds were the screams:
“Are we dead!? Are we dead!? Are we dead!?”
Shouting, she couldn’t believe this was Life....
But her father knew, covered her eyes,
and shouted, “We’re alive!”

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