Magazine article WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Blackwater Bridge

Magazine article WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Blackwater Bridge

Article excerpt

The day after the celebration on the bridge,

Tahir follows the other schoolboys

to the spot where the Americans burned.

Black hollows pock the road near the entrance

and the air smells like spoiled lamb and sour chai.

They chase each other through skeletons

of desiccated vehicles and when one thinks he's found

a piece of a uniform, each boy rushes him to grab

at his tight fist or punch his arm before he runs away.

While the others push and fight over bullet casings,

Tahir tosses rocks at a bundle hanging

from a telephone wire. When he breaks the remnant free,

his cheers surprise the others, who race across the bridge

calling to Tahir. They stop to watch him rip loose red tethers

from a black chunk as long as their thighs. An older boy

dares him to fasten the charred object higher on the bridge.

Another bends to prod it with a stick, tapping bits

off its knotted end, exposing a layer of sheen. …

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