I want to stand with Paris.
I want to stand with Beirut.
I want to stand with Egypt,
I want to stand and stand and stand
but I’ve hit my knees
and forgotten how to pray.
I know in a few years Paris will be a grainy photograph
stuck to a thin page in some history textbook
with the caption
“Attack on Paris by ISIS.”
They’ll wrap up all the heartache and loss into
five words and
Fourteen years of the War on Terror
takes less than fourteen pages
and it won’t tell you that everyone remembers where they were
when those towers fell.
It won’t show you the things we all lost in those sands.
Maybe it’ll give you statistics.
Two or three lines to describe the casualties.
And somewhere among those numbers I hope they add in
the loss of my marriage,
the loss of the ability of a man to father his children,
the loss of the love that was once held by two young people
crazy enough to dash naked through the snow
and lie for hours on the grass as if no one could see them.
I hope they add on every family like mine,
the loss that can’t be packed into a wooden box
and marked with a number
and a small white cross.
I hope in all the political shit
piled into the text of these next history books
it says that we stood united
in fear, and loss, and pain.
That we stood with Paris.
That we stood even when our knees gave out
and we stood when we forgot how to pray.
You have left behind a small bedroom, engulfed by the bulky hospital bed with its folding mattress and steely grey rails.
You have left behind an old red recliner, and I sit in it and remember that the wooden handle no longer works and the deep creak in its rock sounds like the background music to midnight conversations, whispered in the hushed stillness of a sleeping home.
You have left behind a closet full of blue dresses and a red cape, and I never would have known that your favorite color was pink, until you asked for a dress to be buried in and smiled when the rose colored sheath was unfurled from its bag, petals opening in front of a sunset.
You have left a trunk full of love letters and silk scarves and stories I was never old enough to ask you for, so that now I sit and wonder about the woman in the picture, legs propped up on the steps, her skirt sliding up to show off her slender calves.
I have days of work ahead of me, maneuvering the remnants of life from present to memory, and you have left your scent in the sheets, your powder on the bathroom sink, your gold pocket watch on the dresser, and me.
You have left behind me.
This has been a six sentence story. You can find out more about them and this week’s prompt, here.
I have conserved the memory of you,
smashed between the pages
of the photo album on my nightstand –
you, the Polaroid picture I
until the image appeared,
blurred and grainy
and I cried to see the blue of your eyes so diluted.
I have buried myself in the warm fold
of your embrace and
am climbing the steep staircase
of your rib-cage. I am implanting myself
right where it will hurt the most.
I am spying, from the whites of your eyes
to catch a glimpse of the storm sea
in your gaze. It was all I ever