Thursday, January 1, 2009

UXO Laos

During the Vietnam war America dropped around 240 million bombs on Laos, a small and neutral country. About 30% of these bombs never exploded and remain in the fields of Laos. The UXO is an organization that finds and detonates these bombs.

Luang ran over a bomb
the first day of the dry season.
Her smile gone forever, rising
with young grass and dust over the pines.

She had been waiting for the sun
through months of rain and mud.
Luang sits inside, hugging her crutches,
letting the shade bleach the copper from her skin.

No more running to the plain of jars and
singing to the lichen along their rims.
No more twisting rice stalks to garlands.
She murmurs prayers as the clouds roll in.

I leave the house after dawn, Luang eats
just enough so her mother will smile.
I tell her I will clear the fields for her
and her brothers and friends.

She stares at the whiskey her parents make,
aging with snakes killed as charms in bell jars.
She has never seen a plane, the machine
which made bombings possible.

Never seen a plane or an American gun
but her lightning twisted limb knows their war.

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