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Waging Peace

Merna Hecht: Tell Me

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?


Tell me

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


...and again?



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