Farmers' Market

Farmers’ Market

“Try one,” she suggests,
palming dark violet plums.

Abruptly back in olive drabs,
sitting on the border. Flat and motionless
amid the minefield. Camouflage streaks
green and black across stolid cheeks.
One with the summer grasses.

My scope surpasses the patch
of lilies and sights refugee children
making a run for the no-go.
Scuttling past aged signs
with exclamation marks.
Braving barbed wire.

A rusted white pickup in hot pursuit
spews dust in its wake.
Alawite loyalists patrolling
Damascus Road.
Armed to the teeth with banners
and Russian rifles.

Seconds die
and the scene enters range.
Crosshairs track.
Elbows stiffen.

The children double-time,
surrendering keffiyahs and hijabs
to the breeze.
They will not make it.

My risk and face pale
compared to theirs.
I break radio silence.

Hostiles in view: Permission to fire?
Civilians at risk in the No-Go Zone. Requesting authorization—
Only in the event of border breach, or to return fi—

Kalashnikovs fusillade;
two of six downed,
including the smallest girl.
My scope tilts, catching her tumble.
Her basket of ripe Damascenes spills;
fruit bounces into rocky Golan,
setting off a semi-retired Syrian landmine.

Border breach confirmed.

Targets lock at 500 meters.
Trigger: Windshield shatters; driver down.
Trigger: Right tire blows out.

Pickup flips shy of the minefield,
but buys the prey enough time.
Surviving children writhe in mud and tears.

I radio base and airborne
Apaches prepare emergency airlift.
Averting my gaze,
I melt and rejoin Cherry Brigade.

“Damsons are delicious,” she assures.
I waft back to her stall.
“I’ll browse your syrups and maple fudge.”

She grins. I swivel and tilt
the scope of my head,
concealing the throb, the stain,
of memory’s sour tang.


Photo Courtesy: “The Jupiter temple in Damascus” by Ai@ce – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –