The Townspeople Watch Them Take Alfonso

by Ilya Kaminsky

Now each of us is
a witness stand:

Vasenka watches us watch four soldiers throw Alfonso Barabinski on the sidewalk.
We let them take him, all of us cowards.

What we don’t say
we carry in our suitcases, coatpockets, our nostrils.

Across the street they wash him with firehoses. First he screams,
then he stops.

So much sunlight—
a t-shirt falls off a clothes line and an old man stops, picks it up, presses it to his face.

Neighbors line up to watch him thrown on the sidewalk like a vaudeville act: Ta Da.
In so much sunlight—

each of us
is a witness stand:

They take Alfonso
and no one stands up. Our silence stands up for us.

Last updated April 03, 2023