We Knew

David Smith-Ferri

Charahi Qamber Refugee Camp, Kabul
October 29, 2010

It has come to this.
Young American women and men—
mainly from poor families,
trained to kill,
paid to kill,
equipped with sophisticated weaponry
and shipped to foreign countries—
kill innocent children and adults,
mainly illiterate,
often people who never met an American before.
We call this fighting for democracy,
and national security.

Before we met Khalid,
before he reached like a parent into a pocket of his robe,
before his hand emerged with worn photos of his children
lying there torn, bloody, dead,
before the first assault of shock and horror gripped our throats
and shook us like rag dolls,
squeezing the air out of us
Before he told us that
an American missile destroyed my home
killed my wife and five children

we knew that he was waiting for us in Afghanistan,
that he had left the lowland green fertility of his farm, his goats,
his village in Helmand,
left all but the memory of his wife and children
and come with his cousins to this brown, dusty, barren refugee camp
to live with nothing but a tent
between him and Kabul’s mountainous winter.

We knew that others had come before him and others follow.
We knew that alarming numbers of American soldiers
home from Afghanistan
would beat their wives,
abuse their children,
kill themselves.

We knew this before Khalid’s bearded face
and the broken faces of his children looked at us,
before the start of US military operations earlier this year in Helmand Province,
before Barack Obama ordered a surge of troops,
before the first US troops arrived in Afghanistan in October of 2001.
We knew.


Source: Multilanguage Documents. About the autthor. Image: © N/A.
AWIP: http://www.a-w-i-p.com/index.php/poetry/2023/11/27/we-knew


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