When they moved you out of Syria,
we were relieved. You celebrated
by taking a shower and eating a vegetable,
you said. You left behind the rats
that ate any food you didn’t
store in strong containers.
Iraq, by comparison, was a paradise—
until the missiles.
You okay over there? I ask in WhatsApp,
and wait in the silence.
We’re okay, you say finally, for now.
I want to ask you more questions:
Was your base hit?
How close were you to the blast?
But I don’t because I know
they limit what you can say.
So I turn my questions homeward,
to those who have never worn fatigues,
have never shooed rats from their food:
If you are preventing war,
why are missiles being fired at my sister?
Why is Soleimani’s daughter
shouting death to my sister?
Why are a hundred thousand echoes
repeating death to my sister?
Why are people flooding the streets
with their raised fists, their weeping,
their cries of death to my sister—
women, men, and children who will carry
their hate for my sister to the next generation?
Why are a million people thronging together,
wearing black, holding white
flowers in their hands, trampling
dozens of faces under the feet of their anger?
Why are crimson flags, holding
the Farsi word for revenge—
revenge on my sister—
flapping over men’s heads,
draped over women’s shoulders?
Why are young men saying
We are all Soleimanis now,
and we will stand
by our leader and our country
till the last drop of blood?
Brian Wallace Baker is an MFA candidate at Western Kentucky University. His writing has been published by Atticus Review, Colorado Review, Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Magazine, and River Teeth.
Photograph by Hosein Charbaghi.