By Elmaz Abinader
If I put one child on my shoulders
thrust myself forward scrape my feet
to clear the rubble, or water, waste or shards
If I hold the small legs in each of my hands
steady the bounce of the body
against my back, keep the child from falling
maybe the water will clear relieving the palms
The bombing will die away, leaving sparks to stars
The wave will curl back into the sea
If I wait outside the harbor, maneuver
through the blockade, slip near the pier
my boat empty and available, if I pull up
in a pontoon, make room in my motorboat,
bed the floor of a barge, clear out the galley
and scour the decks I can rescue those
Who have been betrayed by the ocean
The bronchial rains and wind, the missiles covered
with messages of love and death written
by young hands and delivered by fire.
If my bus pulls up to the curb, idles–hatch
open to hold their belongings, a convoy
of SUVs with captains chairs, a panel truck
ventilated, with room for children on the floor.
If I fill my car with large families, the sons
holding the doors so they don’t fly open
the desert will cool the backs
of the border-crossers, the interstate converts
to a freeway and not a boundary;
the bridge will lift its guard arm
to a permanent fist of power.
If I can give the children my bike to ride
quickly to the shore, hold their wrists
while they walk, lift them by the waist
and half-circle them aboard the waiting vessel.
Their mothers may smile at them and
brush the floppy hair away with a sense
of miracle etched in their foreheads
If I can swing them back and forth
in play perhaps the leg isn’t blown
off, face in the dirt, hand reaching
toward where they would go, if they could.
That eyes should witness this fracture, ears stuffed
capacity; that taste should include gun powder
and burning flesh; that adding cannot continue
on missing fingers and humming collapsed into sunken chest,
that calling for ummi or baba, mami or papi, pak, ibu,
momma and poppa is drown in elements
of water, earth, fire and air turned in on themselves
that memory should include this, that memory should
hold this, that life is told with an underline of the year
of refugee, of rescue of betrayal. Earth fire air water.
If I could put one child on my shoulder, if I could
whisper into her ear the sounds of birth and budding
rising and singing. If I could replace memory with dream.
Horror with honor.