When I was eight, my mom
Told us to draw the black curtains over the windows at night.
My dad wasn’t around. None of the dads were around. When I
Was eight, my younger sister and I would rush
Down the stairs to the bomb shelter when the sirens went off. My aunt,
Who lived in the apartment above us, painted the shelter shortly before.
She covered the walls with babyblue clouds, large flowers,
When I was eight,
We lived on the second floor of a four-story building.
There was a thrill of excitement for my sister and me when
The sirens went off; we dashed down the
Neverending stairs with tingling feet.
When I was eight, we sat in our beautiful shelter,
Reading our books, eating our snacks, waiting for the second alarm.
The one that told us we could go home.
I was always worried I’d run out of reading materials.
Decades later, I am thinking of the mothers and children on the other side.
Like us, they too were
Left to wonder what is happening above ground.
Near and far.
We, the anonymous mentions in history books.
We, whose fathers were fighting each other
While we kept waiting.
And the whole while,
The fighting and the waiting were collapsing
Into each other.
The fighters had sandy trenches. Explosions. Fright.
We had waiting.
All that waiting.
In the beautiful shelter
Among babyblue clouds, flowers, butterflies, birds.