OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 4
Eliot Khalil Wilson
Soldier with Afghan Child
The road there— all craters and burned-out cars--
towards the bridge in Wardak which runs between
the corrugated maze of the bazaar
and scrapped wheat fields given over to pine.
We had intelligence about the place—
the bridge, the blind corner, the many dead
from snipers, command-wired or pressure plate
IEDs-- and knew what to look for-- red
or yellow wires, disturbed earth, batteries.
Then we thought to walk with village children
across the bridge. For kindness or candy,
they’d take your hand. We thought the Taliban
would back down then, but some devices do not see.
What is it that can take that sight from me?
The blackandwhite man arrives
sweet with decision,
refuses to sit, clickclicks his briefcase,
a newspaper—held up like a dead ocean bird—
that shows the photograph of the murdered girl
who lived for swing sets and Tilt-A-Whirls,
but not a stray bullet through her bedroom wall.
The blackandwhite man turns to the writer and asks,
So what are you doing about it, my mushroom friend?
You who is never a member
and not quite a guest
with your participles,
Are you divorcing me?
Are you resisting something?
The writer nods,
makes a bone quill
of his finger and writes:
I will put that girl back on the swings.
Her name was April.
The hand of the sun on her back,
how her feet touched
the first step of sky,
how her black hair
streamed the air
more as she moved away
than in her steep return,
and all against
the crow sound
of metal chains
like a hinge.
Eliot Khalil Wilson is the author of three books of poetry. His most recent book is an audio book entitled The Lunatic's Left-Hand Man from Golden Walkman Press. The book will be available from Itunes next fall. He currently lives in Golden, Colorado.