by Kasey Shutz
While they huddled on the floor,
sweat soaking through flimsy clothing meant for dancing and not bullets
eyes clenched, lips moving in silent prayers
breathing in the smell of old carpet, cologne, and gunpowder
I sat in an office, wiling away the time until the weekend,
unaware that on the other side of the sunset,
bullets were ripping through flesh and bone,
a spray of gravel launched into clear water,
marring the surface,
Sending ripples ever outward
of panic, anger, hatred, fear, numbness.
one day the ripples will dissipate,
swallowed up in an abyss of memory,
a history of gravel sunk beneath the placid surface,
one more scar crisscrossing the world’s bleeding body.
But the effects will remain
refugees turned back,
accused of working for the same people that drove them away
the call to prayer seen as a call to arms,
looks of distrust and suspicion at every turn.
The truth is,
we forgot we were at war,
sending sons and daughters,
fathers and mothers,
friends and lovers
beyond the horizon
deploying machines to do our killing,
one more level in the game of war.
We forgot that each target
is someone’s brother, sister, father, mother, lover, friend.
We forgot that it could come back to us,
that we are not impenetrable,
while we threw rocks in their pond,
we forgot that they could throw right back at us.
Nothing we can say will make it okay,
nothing we can do will turn back the clock,
we can never erase the ripples in the water.
But maybe this time we can let the gravel fall from our bloodied fingers
maybe this time we can reach out instead of pushing away.
Maybe this time we can wage peace.