Faheem, 14, North Waziristan

By Alex Little

The field mouse and I
surveil the sky, wait
for the sound of wings,
almost taste our skin quiver

At the hawk’s approach.
Even then it mocks us,
plodding a war-worn path
across our barren horizons.

Here, there is nowhere to bury
the shudder of hearts, limbs—
only a hasty, crooked shelter
of stolen, broken ground.

Our routine of dying, unmarked,
scattered, in pastures untrod
by creatures keen enough
to keep their distance,

Brings me a certain solace:
the fates of mice and martyrs
are bound by their finality,
talons striking a target.

That field mouse and I,
too young to heed the blow,
are gone before its grip
commands us to the sky,

Born again as witness to the Lie:
Death pursues the battle-shy youth,
inbellis juventa, as if we could choose,
shirk the machine-honed arrows

Flung from heavens, not men.

AL_200x200_bwAlex Little is a lawyer and writer in Nashville, Tennessee. His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Tennessean, where he was selected by readers to be a regular columnist. More of his poetry can be found at his website, alexlittletn.com.

Join the Conversation