Afghanistan Butterfly by Amit Parmessur

Why butterfly? To be crucified among
crumbs, with the cheese of death?

I spotted the dead butterfly,
roasting alone in the burning sun.
I hesitated to hesitate and picked her.
A US soldier is not inhuman, certainly.
He is just a helpless instrument.

Lying lifeless, the fly was a refreshing mosaic
in the dusty and soiled tar,
as the morsel of a fallen peacock,
a painful reminder of a country on its knees.

I almost cried,
being myself nothing more than that butterfly.
Back behind the rocks,
I put her down with an emotional hand.
Better fly, I told her.
I encouraged her.
She did not react as her sad wings
fluttered in the dry wind.
She had to incur the involuntary
bruise of my gory gun.

Then I opened my bag,
searching for the cute Qu’ran
gifted to me by an innocent girl I had rescued
two days before.

I found and opened the book.

I put the fly inside and the book
closed as if nothing had been.

When I tried to find the butterfly
again, I just could not.
Which page? Where?
Where? Which—

A distant shot resounded in the air,
turning me into a soldier again.

The next morning when
I opened the Qu’ran again
the Afghanistan butterfly was still alive;
I could feel it.


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