You Should Know, When You Take a Class Called Literature of Genocide

The floor in this classroom is laminate
made to look like wood.  It sounds like plastic
when you walk on it, and it’s nearly impossible
to scoot your chair closer to the desk
if you are sitting in it.

Sometimes before class
I take a half hour nap
in my car.  Not today.  Instead,
I assembled a breakfast of strawberry
yogurt and black coffee.
It’s sitting on the desk in front
of me.

We’re going to watch
The Killing Fields, my professor
informs us.  We need to start
it straight away.  Technology, he mumbles.
Does anyone know how to work
the volume on this?
Can someone get the lights?

I sit in the very front in this class
because I know
I will cry.

In what is now called Turkey,
there was a genocide.
In Germany,
there was a genocide.
In Cambodia,
there was a genocide.
I watch the bombs explode.
I watch the babies cover their ears
with their hands and scream.
I watch the babies wander
in circles looking
for their families.
I watch the babies
burnt, burning, crying.
I watch the helpless
mothers.

I think of my babies,
chubby legs, running, laughing,
sleeping under
soft blankets tucked safely
in their beds at night.
I’m sweating as I lay my head
in my left hand
at the front of the room
and cry.  I wonder
if anyone notices my shoulders
rising
and falling.

I am embarrassed.

Back home, after picking
the twins up from daycare,
I get them juice, turn
on some cartoons,
turn on my laptop to check
my messages.

Unfair, I read.
Unfair Unfair.
Look at me!
Look at me!
Unfair!
they scream.

And I think
fuck all you
goddamned motherfuckers.


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