“Memories in Fire”

~Esther Mitchell, 2014~

My jaw cracks,
From the weight of trying to force words up from my throat,
To regurgitate sounds you might find pleasing,
While inside, there’s only screaming.

I hear the pop and crackle in my ears,
The static of decades spent with a steady drone,
Echoing in the vaults of my skull,
Telling me I should think like you,
I should believe like you,
I should be like you.

My eyelids are weighted with lies,
Told me by a printed page,
That only reports what it’s told to speak,
Like a propaganda marionette,
Dancing the same tired jig.

In 1988, the news media gave exactly ten seconds of airtime,
And less even than that of print,
To an event that took dozens of lives,
Left hundreds more shattered,
Scattered like carrion on a field where steel birds rose and landed.
I know the horror of that day.
I sat less than one hundred yards from my very own Ground Zero,
Frozen in terror as my disbelieving eyes filled with fire,
My ears with the screaming, the cracking roar of ignited jet fuel.
I watched bodies, and parts of bodies,
Swept from the fields into the buffeting winds of an angel of death,
a child, witness to a horror US media would simply sweep under a rug,
while I still awake, screaming,
with visions and sounds burned into my brain that will not fade.

In 1991, the US media reported that we were “winning” our “war” in the Gulf.
There were few casualties listed for the UN Coalition, and fewer yet for the US military.
While I sat with breath frozen in my lungs, waiting for the words I dreaded most,
The loss of a friend, of a loved one,
And I thought the not knowing was agony,
But the knowing was worse, when reports came in of missiles falling,
And the names rolled off tongues, until I couldn’t hear anymore.
But we were “winning” the war, with acceptable losses.
How many losses are acceptable to you?

In 2001, Hell came to us.
The screaming filled ALL of our skies, and the anguish could no longer be denied.
I vomited blood, the night before it happened.
Hours spent, wretched and afraid, huddled on my bathroom floor,
I didn’t know why, I didn’t know what, I didn’t know if I was dying, or if it was the world.
And as I watched the smoke billow, heard the flames crackle and the screams,
I knew I’d come full circle, back to that girl,
Sitting on the runway, watching the sky rain metal and fire,
And all I could do was cry.

I will not make mockery of the lives lost,
Souls taken in fire and screaming.
I will not let myself be party to the lie,
Party to the fury,
Party to the blame.
I remember the heroes,
The sacrifices,
The slain.



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