A Poem for Peshawar

Peshawar 2013

let me show you the cost of worship:

a man, with his eyes closed, arms splayed
as if embracing the carnage around him,
another man's hand on his back,
mayhem, comfort

five rescue workers carrying a girl on a charpoy,
rubber flip-flops, one dangling from her foot,
about to fall off,
her bright yellow shalwar with a floral print,
basant, kites                                       dead? alive?
a woman sitting on the ground,
hands clasped, head bent low,
meditative, almost,
a crimson stain on her shoulder, blooming,
a full-mouthed lily, an inkblot
another woman wailing, walking toward the first,
her reaching palm, an effigy in midair,
grief immortalized in the contortion of her face,
kith? kin?
a row of five plain oak coffins,
mercifully closed,
a hand resting on the lid,
precious cargo,
78 dead, over a hundred injured,
death toll climbing, climbing, they say,
like a vine it grows,
no photos of children, yet
no children, please, god, please,
no more, no more