I liked to walk down to the river for Mama,
to fill the buckets for cooking and wash.
The trail down was peaceful, though not carefree.
colorful birds high in the canopy,
singing their songs, I felt, for me.
Animals rustling through the underbrush
at my approach.
I knew to stay on the trail.
It was dangerous they said,
repeatedly, ever since I could walk.
But the bucket got away from me,
rolled and bounced,
and I chased it as my arms flapped
and the other bucket flounced.
It happened in an instant,
in a flash.
I couldn’t see or hear,
fire and ash,
and I felt …
nothing at all.
At the clinic they told Papa
it had been a close call.
Now he carries me
wherever he goes
a Quad-something they said.
I don’t know.
I only just turned seven years old.
I hear the neighbors whispering,
it would have been better if I had died.
Each night when Papa lays me on my mat
it’s not me, but him who cries.
He said war is something never won,
and that peace can never be gained,
while there is profit to be made from killing,
the world will be full of pain.
M. Zane McClellan
Copyright © 2016
All rights reserved
* Every year, landmines kill 15,000 to 20,000 people — most of them children, women and the elderly — and severely maim countless more. Scattered in some 78 countries, they are an ongoing reminder of conflicts which have been over for years or even decades. Yet despite this random carnage, they continue to used as weapons of war.