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?

Colloquy
 

The blackandwhite man arrives

sweet with decision,

refuses to sit, clickclicks his briefcase,

produces nonfiction—

 

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,

your sentiments.

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.