Leaving Childhood Behind

When I left, I left my childhood in the drawer
and on the kitchen table. I left my toy horse
in its plastic bag. 
I left without looking at the clock. 
I forget whether it was noon or evening. 

Our horse spent the night alone, 
no water, no grains for dinner. 
It must have thought we’d left to cook a meal 
for late guests or to make a cake
for my sister’s tenth birthday. 

I walked with my sister, down our road with no end. 
We sang a birthday song. 
The warplanes echoed across the heavens. 
My tired parents walked behind, 
my father clutching to his chest
the keys to our house and to the stable. 

We arrived at a rescue station. 
News of the airstrikes roared on the radio. 
I hated death, but I hated life, too, 
when we had to walk to our drawn-out death, 
reciting our never-ending ode. 

From Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear by Mosab Abu Taha. Copyright © 2022 by Mosab Abu Taha. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC, on behalf of City Lights Publishers.