What Numbers Cannot Say

by Rachael Button

At Least 12 Schoolgirls Trampled To Death In Afghan Earthquake,
They were trying to flee their shaking school when some fell in the panic.

-Nick Robins-Early World Reporter, The Huffington Post

12
hardly shows a thing–
not faces,
when they lost footing,
skin and soles
swept beneath
a sea of fleeing feet.

Not the morning–
when mothers sang,
naan browned,
dust billowed,
boys tossed pebbles,
and girls sat stick-straight
listening, chalk scratching slate
before the earth
quaked.

The papers printed photographs:
broken bricks, blue hospital sheets,
and school shoes, piled high:
velcro, leather,
ballerina bows and pointy toes–
abandoned by the feet that fit them.
We wonder:
Will their fathers find their shoes?
Will their mothers find their books?
What stories won’t we hear?

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