A Train Platform in Bicske, Hungary by Ellen Rethwisch

Image originally published in The Telegraph, courtesy of the poet

Image courtesy of The Telegraph

                                           From a photo by
                                  Laszlo Balogh/Reuters
                                      September 3, 2015

But I’m used to it now—used to hearing
my own scream rattle in my throat. Ever since
they dragged my only brother by his shirt, made
us watch as they shot him—once in the stomach,
twice in the head—for opposing Assad, drove away
before his blood had dried. Or when they set fire to
our home, and we stood outside, watched
flames scald the walls, the windows. And then
the moment I remembered—remembered my
mother’s necklace on the dresser inside, then
collapsed to the ground, cheek to dry dust.

On the train through Hungary, my husband,
Mohommad, took my mind off the stuffy air,
the smell of sweat and urine. We’re almost to Austria,
he had said. Almost to safety.  But now we’re here,
breathing rust from the rails Mohammad pulled me
onto. He holds me down, I hold our son, rocks spearing
my shoulder and back. Voices, cameras, armed police
close in on us. Our son is crying now. I hold him
around the waist, cradle his head to my chest, avoid
nails and wood and jagged rock. A man on the train
reaches out the window, pumps his fist, a vein emerging
on his forehead. He yells No camp! No camp!
Police detach Mohammad’s arms from my waist, lift him
off the tracks, secure handcuffs around his wrists.
I hear it again—my scream, this time against
the backdrop of shuttering cameras. I cry with Husam,
repeat the words, Min fadlik, min fadlik. 
Please, please.