At the entrance to the museum was a model town
made to depict how the city had once been.
In the model there were no people but lights
illuminated all angles. The butcher shop,
the grocer, the pomegranate stand.
Rugs the color of dried plums
and large bellied pots lined the walls.
With his thick fingers the director pointed to a map,
this is where they entered, this is where we fended them off.
Each morning, we woke to pigs squealing, walked
the wet October streets. Climbed the abandoned mosque.
We clicked pictures, through fog, of a broken minaret.
In the church, we lit candles for those newly
and long dead. At night we drank with soldiers
and learned the word for dark, for bat.
We already knew the word for war.
Melanie Tafejian is a writer originally from the Pacific Northwest. She has work in The Atlanta Review, The Georgia Review, The Los Angeles Review, Nimrod, and Poetry Northwest, among other journals. She lives in Raleigh, where she is an English lecturer at North Carolina State University.
Tuesday, 14 November 2023