after the short film Ghosts of Sugar Land
The Muslim friends of the radicalized boy
felt guilty. If only we could have answered
his questions, or sent him to someone
who could. Instead they said,
Look it up! I don’t fucking know!
One said, If I said the right things
he would be here, be one of us, now.
Shoulders slumped, faces covered
by Halloween masks. Toy Story,
Power Rangers, Super Mario Brothers.
They worried most that he was dead
now, after moving to Syria,
to live under ISIS, to be at war.
Here’s the killer: our American
insurgent survived. The Kurds
caught him, sent him home
to Texas to face charges. The Kurds,
whose images are too heavy for me
to bear: a weeping headscarfed woman
shaking her dead child, more limp
than any doll, at the camera. The women
running in terror, pushing small children
before them. They sent him back to us,
our American boy, where in prison he serves
his living time. Their bodies line
the streets. They flee their towns;
they’ll never return. They die & die,
the Kurds who sent our boy home.
Mary Ann Honaker is the author of It Will Happen Like This (YesNo Press, 2015) and Becoming Persephone (Third Lung Press, 2019). Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart prize. Mary holds an MFA from Lesley University. She currently lives in Beckley, West Virginia.
Photograph of a Kurdish soldier via Flickr.