by James C. Henderson
After a drone strike kills five children in Afghanistan
I go to the zoo. I’m not sure why
except my granddaughters beg me to go.
I haven’t been to the zoo in a while.
Admission has gone up, the hours are shorter
and the monorail is broken—again.
The children killed were all from one family.
The two youngest were obliterated
in their cribs by the Hellfire missile.
The three playing outside in the street
of their remote mountain village could
at least, be laid whole in their rocky graves.
With our ride to the future derailed
we have to walk to see the animals pace
the perimeter of their fenced-in pens.
Many of them endangered, I suppose
it’s better than letting them roam the open plains
where poachers machine gun them for a few bucks.
The father has lined up three framed photographs
of his murdered sons and daughters against
a sunny wall of his ruined house.
The mother holds photos of the two babies in her lap.
Neither parent cries. They stare into the camera.
The U.S. government is offering money.
Suddenly, I feel we are too exposed.
The people walking past eye me and shy away.
I gather my granddaughters near
and squint into the blinding sun.
The sky is blue, dotted with fluffy clouds
like those found painted on nursery walls.