waiting for papa

stay put, papa said.
he hugs me
beneath the smoke colored sky
and wetly kisses my forehead.

okay, papa, okay.
i’ll wait here.

as he runs with the men wearing
dirty, khaki uniforms
i sit under a wooden table
holding my knees,
careful to not let anyone step on me.

everyone is running in different directions
yelling the names of their children
and looking for god.
i hope the flares hit the dirt
and not them.

i want to close my eyes
like momma told me to do when i’m scared
but it’s hard not to look
at the flies picking at a dead dog
and my neighbor laying next to me
whose eyes haven’t blinked.
he is a nice man,
i remember he gave me caramel candies.

the skies now buzz with flies
it’s hard to see anything
with all the lights out.

i hear mommas wailing
and papas sobbing.
i peak my head out
and the roads look empty.

i see the sun rising behind the little houses
lighting the faces of
people who slept on the street.
some of them hug the earth
others have their arms open
towards the clouds.

everything is still.

papa still hasn’t come back.
he must have gone to the store to buy those cigarettes
the ones momma doesn’t like.
he’d be proud. i’m such a good listener
i even slept under the wooden table
like he said.

the sun reaches the center of the sky
and no one wakes up.

i will forgive you for leaving me here
only if you bring me some
caramel candies.

i know papa doesn’t like it
when i cry.
but i can’t stop crying.
he still hasn’t come back.