Tara Isabel Zambrano
Our Sons Wrote, Glorious Days Are About To Come

CW: Conflict Zone Violence

After guerilla training in the mountains, our sons came back with machine guns and grenades, their cheeks soft-grizzled, their gaze scorched like Siachen glacier in sunlight, barely eighteen, our sons had creases on their forehead like electric wires running too close–ready to short circuit our sons squeezed tomatoes and eggs in their palms–look, that’s how blood drips from a body hollow with death, they said, on practice targets our sons discharged a train of shells like cracking knuckles, our sons wrapped a plastic bag around the head of anyone who argued with their goals, about their gods, and dropped them in the quiet valley, sleeping with their military-hand-me-down-uniforms and boots on because our sons ran as soon as that phone call came–are you ready to fulfill your purpose, are you willing to die–someone loud on the other side for us to hear–get out of our way, our sons yelled as we sipped kehwa restraining our throats not to feel its warmth because it just felt wrong, underneath their clothes our sons were still sprouting in their armpits when armed forces cornered them in the forests, our sons came back with nauseating gashes on their limbs and clenched their fists while we sealed their wounds with herbal smoke, sh… we said blowing air over their skin as they sighed–their throats filled with the silt of what they learned in their camps when their captains drowned their heads in chilled water to not let them sleep, their pockets obese with pamphlets about how sacrifice purifies us–their teeth clawing at the beauty of a revolution, their heels pressed on the damp chest of unwidowed-trampled-with-conflict-earth they called their real mother and we wept listening to them and remembered, when younger, how our sons hid in our phirans on black cold days, baby fat on their thighs and necks–a magnet for mosquitoes, how our sons bird-called and fed the goats with their pink palms, their chins up gathering the height of poplars, on old newspapers our sons wrote–glorious days are about to come with unused kohl pencils­–each word stuck to their tongues like fat on meat and we fed them almonds and milk to keep their minds sharp, we sold our jewelry to send them to school and thought we saved our sons until they ran away because they hated being poor and beaten and curfewed like us, they thought the camps on other side of the mountains would give them a purpose and now our sons don’t look like our sons–their pictures plastered on walls, their faces white as a fat moon ticking like a bomb, their names repeated on loudspeakers by the police offering money to capture them dead or alive–one afternoon ruined by saffroned heat, our sons pulled by their hair, dragged by their feet are brought to us to be identified–their mouths taped, their backs riddled with bullet holes, their pants smelling of shit, wet with their fear, we kneel before our sons, grasping the edges of their blood-glossed skin–someone from the crowd shouts–the leeches are dead, the fuckups deserved what they got and we bring our sons to our bosom, kiss their forehead bulging with veins and scream–speak to me, speak to me (our sons didn’t talk to us even when they were alive, they were long gone before we realized it), we rinse them with our tears, our snot and saliva–their bodies so heavy, we cannot bury.

Tara Isabel Zambrano is a writer of color and the author of Death, Desire And Other Destinations, a full-length flash collection by OKAY Donkey Press. She lives in Texas and is the Fiction Editor for Waxwing Literary Journal.