the day was ordinary

i dug my toes in the dirt

held on shyly to my mother’s skirts

surveyed strangers solemnly

left thumb hooked in my mouth

there was something shiny across the square

i wandered over, a curious five-year-old

my name was thurainay abdu salaam

my village was three hours south of baghdad

the sun was covered in shadow

i looked up, a plane filling my view

five flew over, giant winged arrowheads

eggs fell from the birds in the sky

the world exploded, i fell backward

smoke and fire blinded me

everyone was screaming, shouting, crying

my mother was across the square

was she?  where was i?  there was no sight

time ceased to exist for me

i stood, i walked in absence of direction

silent as in death

i couldn’t speak

i didn’t know what to say

i didn’t know what —

i didn’t know

i didn’t …