– she thought they would be safe.
told them that they were supporters, that her older son
was in their army.
sure they said and shoved her, sure then we’ll be gentle.
her youngest son they shot for coming to her aid.
they tied her to the bed post while they did things to her daughter.
then they shot the daughter to death as well.
when we found her she had torn her wrists bloody trying to get free.
These are not my hands
They do not belong to me.
These are the hands that did not save my children.
She begs us to chop them off
We have to always have someone with her otherwise she tears off the bandages with her teeth.
The woman would speak only in whispers and leaned into Tilkon
– Oh Tilkon said, ah she wants to give you something
The woman reached into a canvass bag she’d carried slung across her chest
fumbling, needed help
one of the younger girls who had been her watcher assisted
– are you sure? asked the girl
and the woman nodded
so she handed Shirley the news paper wrapped object.
– it is a shirt . the girl explained. it was for her son.
– she thinks it will fit you said the girl,
she wants you to have it.
she made it for her son.
she says yours has too much blood.
Shirley opens the packages.
– thank you she says, thank you for this kindness. gives it to me to hold while she pulls off her bloodied old shirt and puts on the new denim blue carefully fastening each riveted button.
Before we can do anything else the woman, fumbles in the bag again
– Wait she says wait she says out loud in her own voice.
shes pulled out a photograph. rushes up to Shirley
– Here she says her this is my boy, my son, my only child. look
he is not like them
he is no animal
please if you see him
please do not kill him
please his mother loves him tell him
please he is a good boy he would never do such things she waves her arms
across the dead woman across the tied and dying naked man…
Shirley takes the photo
– yes i will remember him. i will promise.
shows me the photo as well
– yes i say, yes i too will promise.
– take the picture back. Shirley says. We will remember, we wont forget.
the woman smiles,
– I know she says . I know.
wipes the tears from her face with her bandaged wrists, turns away comforted by the young girl .