For a time, we lived in a refugee camp with people who had fled across the border from war in their home area. That border was less than 30 miles away, and when their villages were bombed, our tin roof would shake. Learning to distinguish the sounds of war from the sounds of rain became an unexpected skill in that season. There was an uncomfortable dissonance in living peacefully in such close proximity to war, in living unscathed in close community with traumatized peoples.
Let It Be Rain
Today we heard an Antanov drop bombs in Soda.
Or maybe Yabus. People really couldn’t be sure.
But either way, they were the closest I have heard yet.
I was in the office writing a mediocre poem about fireflies;
the girls sat on the porch plucking a chicken with Aisha,
and I heard the thunder in the distance,
textured and too-precisely defined,
like a single low growl whispered from inches away.
Except, of course, that it is March 16th, and the rain is still
but a damp embryo somewhere in the womb of the sky.
I knew better, but that is still the thought I clung to:
Let it be rain.
But within seconds the plane had dropped another,
and then closer, a third,
so that sitting 30 kilometers away,
I heard the roar and felt my insides turn to water,
like the fear inside a thousand women who couldn’t see their children
had been blown sky high and exploded into me.
I ran out of the house with several others,
feeling ashamed of the vague panic that bore no place
next to those beside me in the throes of flashbacks,
but calling my daughters’ names even so.
I found them, happy and covered in feathers,
and I pulled them close.
The plane passed lazily overhead,
winking in the sunlight with teasing disinterest
as it turned north and headed home.