Shaindel Beers

 

 The Children’s War: Poems on Children’s Artwork of War

 

Sometimes the airplanes resemble planes;

sometimes they congeal in the distance, like ticks

stuck to the page. Always, the upside down people

are dead. Always, there is a mother

screaming.

~

From an eight year old Darfurian girl’s drawing

The tank, bigger than the hut, fires

and all of the colors explode from the hut.

Why is this man green?

Because he is from the tank.

Why is this woman red?

Because she was shot in the face.

And why aren’t you colored in?

 Because it is like I wasn’t even there.

~

After a photo of a Chechen girl on a train

I am four, almost five, and I am beautiful.

I have my red hat, my red coat; I ride

on my mother’s lap. People smile at me.

I make them happy. When my mother looks

at them, they look away. My mother has

brown eyes. I have blue. I have only seen

my father in pictures. We have to practice

my mother says. Where are we going?

To visit Grandma in the country.

What will you do there?

Help Grandma gather eggs and be brave

even if the hens peck me.

Ride Doishka, the pony. I look out the window

at the wildflowers speeding by.

And you mustn’t cry says mother if we get there

and there is no Grandma, no pony.

~

After a thirteen year old Darfurian boy’s drawing

Women flee from their houses as smoke rises

like terrible angels and men in green herd them

like cattle. What are the men doing to the women?

Forcing them to be wives. Their houses are gone.

Yes, when you are thirteen,

to be a wife is having a house, a man.

But he is right; the women with the soldiers

are warm and brown; their hair flies around them

as they run. The women who will not be wives

are outlines, uncolored, upside down

in the foreground.

____

Shaindel Beers’ poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is currently an instructor of English at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, in Eastern Oregon’s high desert and serves as Poetry Editor of Contrary. A Brief History of Time, her first full-length poetry collection, was released by Salt Publishing in 2009. Find her online at http://shaindelbeers.com.