We fight because we love. Strange, no? We struggle with the easiest things, and with ease turn hard and sharp. So easy to pierce the softness of a smile. A thought. Find a way around wonder with certitude. A girl and a boy, in love with each other with fist and nail gouge a space in each others’ hearts and flesh. Blood of the mother, wound of the child, a broken body, another pile to honor the love of a man for his god. Might as well use a pitch fork to stack that load.
We started out with care, lifting each drained body with awe and humility and placing it carefully alongside the last, with a prayer beneath our breaths and an ache in our chests. But the sun rose swiftly on such a foreign day, and soon we were grunting under the strain. The children were easier, lighter at least. We gave way to the need, and soon worked with speed despite the heat and glare and dust. And the smell no longer forced a pause to retch. First our loved ones. Then we found there was little difference between one broken body and the next. We made crude jokes knowing each would return to us as we slept, if later we slept at all. By then even a child’s foot still in its sock and tiny shoe could not inspire a tear.
Toss it on the load. Get it out of here, there is plenty of blood left in the dust for the flies. But a shard of mirror still attached to a bit of its cheap plastic frame reflects the white sky above. No bigger than your thumb, but there, just enough left to recall its whole, hanging in the market stall, reflecting the widow’s face screwed up in calculation — was it worth the eggs and oil she would have to do without to gaze again into the eyes that had reduced that powerful young man to tears of desire, that had coaxed from him his best and glowed with pride in his victories, and had sent him from his bed to drink himself to sleep by the fire, stinking of another woman? The dust, the bodies, the stones and bricks and twisted metal, the living bent to clear the shattered street, the groaning city surrounding and the vast miles of sand beyond, even the sun above the blank white sky pauses in its journey to pivot around that one point of reflection, and careen off in a new direction, uncharted, unconsidered, unpredicted.