Peering into the eyes of a child stressed, is a mirror shattering six inches from your face teasing to scratch you. Parentless children find a way to exist with kinfolk, with siblings, abandoned with despair on a plane packed with strangers. Their stare, still shocked from sorrowful separation, a thousand-yard focus past the plane’s bulkheads. I cannot shake the boy off the plane with hazel eyes affixed on me, dusty without socks, shoes shuffling his feet. I cannot shed the eeriness, peeling away layers under my skin as he was armlengths away. I cannot discard his image, my mind writing alternate endings, his destined branched paths flung from confined federal orphan care. I can only hope that my soft smile brought comfort from his disconnection, being a sensory blanket awakening his skin pores, a step away from the pain.
About the poem: I wrote this poem while assigned to a team in Germany working with the U.S. State Department and UNICEF from the United Nations. The task was to identify and assist children that were traveling unaccompanied fleeing from the predicted oppression of the current regime in Afghanistan, Autumn 2021. These children either lost or were disconnected from their parents. This was an emotional process for me, listening to their stories, and finding out their needs which led to this one of a series of poems I wrote.
Photo by Mohammad Rahmani/Unsplash