GBU – 43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (aka ‘mother of all bombs’)
I fall into the mountain side; I burn in
to the twisting serpent of chambers
hidden there. I am wild for the underlength
of tunnels and beautiful men who run like blood.
Everyone scatters from the mother in me —
flagrant, unsheltered in my clouded, cream-
colored air. Your every limb, a phantom
limb of the life you lived before. Even you
who think you’re far from me, are not.
I see you from the corner of my fiery eye.
About this, people on every continent can agree —
You are the seed split open by the terrible sun in me.
Just off the highway between the mosque and the military base.
When he entered the building of blue-green tile beneath a towering palm.
After he’d said to his father, Forgive me for any wrong doing; I am no longer your child.
He told a friend, I am going traveling; I will not be here tomorrow.
He ate oranges and dates but very little bread.
I remember he liked to go fishing for albacore;
Sometimes he would bring over a sample of the catch,
deliciously prepared by his wife.
He liked to say, for you prayer is a ceremonial sip of wine;
for us it is as essential as water.
I remember he was very partial to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
It was Ramadan; we were about to break our fast with the children.
We took a bite; we said our prayers.
After the initial missile strike, a pause.
Neighbors climb over rubble that once was a doorway.
Then, a second strike.
A dust of plaster covers the bodies
as if a shroud had dropped from above
On days of deepest blue she says, the sky, all wings, expands and expands.
When a reporter asks what a drone sounds like, a soldier at the controls tries a joke:
How would I know? I’ve never been to a Pakistani wedding before.
7,500 miles away, an old man hisses into a camera: They sound like birds on fire.
In a sparsely furnished apartment where he arrived last June.
Along with an easel, an assortment of oil paints and brushes.
In the corner of the pantry, three slender jars of olives.
PETN manufactured as a powder has the consistency of fine popcorn salt.
A high brisance explosive, it cannot be picked up by metal detectors.
Just after dark in front of a café crowded with people.
They had gathered to watch a football match. There were tables on the sidewalk,
a few were set up in the street just beyond the curb.
Behind a Saturday morning of coffee and birdsong
thousands of miles away, in a kitchen dominated by beakers, wiring and clocks.
He said, we move among the people as fish swim in the sea.
Every piece of clothing found was washed,
dried, and ironed so that they
could be returned to the relatives.
To his sister he wrote, I did not feel the chaos;
I was so peaceful in my heart that I fell asleep.
Sometimes the drones fly very low.
As when the tongue rests behind the teeth before one speaks.
As when a warrior seeks praise for the skull shape
of the enemy’s homeland seen from above.
* Notes: Bits of the italicized language come from articles in The New York Times, The Daily Mirror, The Washington Post, New American, Pajamas Media, The Nation, Global Security.org. The line, On days of deepest blue she says, the sky, all wings, expands and expands is adapted from “Desire Moving Through Maps of Matter” by Adonis. Detailed notes are available on request.
Aliesa Zoecklein has poems published in Copper Nickel, Posit, Carolina Quarterly, and Peacock Journal, among others. In 2014, her chapbook At Each Moment, Air won the Peter Meinke Award and was published by YellowJacket Press. Aliesa lives with her wife in Gainesville, Florida, where she teaches writing at Santa Fe College.
Featured image courtesy of Air Historical Branch-RAF
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