No Shovels Left in Saada

Photo: © S. Bertrand. All rights reserved.

Saada, Northern Yemen

I saw you standing five feet before
the arachnoid hulk of metal, not the color
of night, but the color of a school bus,
disenchanted from the song of its substance,
charred frame like sulking tent poles.

I saw you checking blue tarps, concealing
the little once-lives, trying to console
a father, he pressing tear-glossed cheeks
into the ground, leaving dark pools
of shade. You must’ve seen them playing

tag, chasing and laughing, in this, one
of the last parks in Yemen left whole
by Saudi-launched, American-built missiles.

So you played with them, the days before
fully their own, or this day seconds before
fiery flash and blowback, force wind,
making of the two days—before, and then—
one space of memory, genuine and theirs.

But no, this life: a dance with the devil
and with happenstance, mortality baffled by
blast force, and the boys, their little birds lifted
from their bodies.
This life. What else to do
but dig? You asked for a shovel, tried to find
a shovel, but no. Begged for a shovel, begged for
something, anything. There the boys’ teacher
met you, saying look, as he cast his hand laterally
to survey the graves pocking the white earth.
There are no shovels left in Saada, he said.

Daniel Jenkins is a poet, editor, and teacher. His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Lost River Literary Magazine, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Cold Mountain Review, The Potomac, JMWW, and Cathexis Northwest Press. He is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and teaches writing at Northern Virginia Community College, Loudoun Campus. Daniel lives in Northern Virginia.

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Issue 6

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