This poem was written after viewing the traveling exhibit, "Eyes Wide Open," which included a line-up of empty shoes once worn by Iraqi civilians, "collateral damage," from the war.
Tell me about a pair of turquoise espadrilles
how they enclosed small, sun-brown feet
of a little girl who walked
through the Baghdad market
holding her uncle's hand.
Tell me, did she skip rope,
read beneath a generous tree,
legs crossed at the ankle,
her turquoise shoes
pointing up toward a matching sky?
Tell me of her daydreams,
of a still afternoon when dust motes danced
around her, how she splashed cool water on her face,
and ate one sweet date brought in from the country.
Can you show me her eyes,
bright moons in desert sky,
can you hear her trusting blue-clothed feet running
to pour mint tea when aunties came to call,
when slips of sun laughed on tiles and stories
ripened in common rhyme of time-worn moments?
why her shoes stand empty.
Show me one reason for her death
all that is left,
an empty innocence,
filling small turquoise shoes.
Can you tell me,
who will be left,
who can speak her name