“Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof,
That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?”
~ Job 38: 19-20
We sit and hug our knees, watching as children come to the center of the square, where volunteers have set up fires and big iron cauldrons. Some have brought buckets, and some have brought styrofoam bowls; and some have brought tin plates or the plastic cover of a margarine tub. Their faces are smeared with soot, with tears, with snot. They haven’t eaten for days. They haven’t washed. Soon there isn’t enough for their hunger. We wonder, will there ever be enough again? The long-handled ladles scrape the last burnt layers from the bottom of the pot. A few grains of brown rice, onions, lentils in the mouth. Behind them, the setting sun casts shadows in hives of stucco and plaster. Hollow stairwells, honeycombs of walls where bedrooms and kitchens used to be. Should I mouth the old prayers, should I repeat a phrase of comfort to my neighbor huddled beside me, it isn’t from claiming to know, Lord, what these designs can mean. I am smaller than a cipher on a flimsy page. In the darkness, every heart still beating buries itself like a mine waiting to explode, the way the dark amber flesh of a date swells and breaks open, no longer able to contain either its ripeness or the sugars that have hardened to stone.
In response to small stone (177).