Passage, 1951


Once, I saw shrapnel cut
a woman's head clean off
like a halved pill bug.
Her legs kept carrying her
a while, from this world
into the next,
and when she finally fell,
the baby strapped to her back
tumbled out like a potato
during good harvest.
The baby still lived, but no one
stopped but to undress the mother,
take what they could for themselves.
I did too. My siblings and I, a plague
of locust on each new body that folded.
We fought others off with a disrobed
sort of hunger, all teeth and tremor.
I feared we would never un-wild ourselves.
But this way, at least, we were fed.
A few pouches of stolen grains or a strip
of jerky still damp with sweat.
We grew to love the iron in death.
My sister began to smile
while looting bodies, and the sight of her
put freeze in me. It was only after seeing her
I knew what my own mouth was doing.