The world offers its history
on its own terms along with its atrocities;
the scars of emotional, terrestrial landscapes
in Leopold’s Congo, in Stalin’s Siberia,
in Assad’s Syria; a contemporary nightmare
unlike the dream-state of the haunted remains
of Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, and Dachau;
but alike all the same.
I take shelter within the timbers; the forests
and jungles which time has offered
in empathy to cover over geographies,
both mental and physical,
which hold the bones of Anastasia,
of Tuol Sleng’s innocent, of Al-Anfal’s unwitting;
fathers, husbands, sons;
daughters, mothers, wives.
On indeterminate walks along the beach
with my own son, my own wife,
I, a husband and a father, sense the waves
erasing my emphatic footprints’ determined gait
to leave the world behind; though
the roar and hiss of water breaking on the sand
are never enough to wash from memory
the blood-soaked footsteps of its history.