In the marketplace, there is a hum that speaks
of both peace and the anticipation
of violence. It is not a place to breathe
easy, nor is it a place to linger.
There, the place should be treated like a heist:
do your business quickly and then retreat.
You will not see a woman’s face. Not there.
Which is not to say you will not find a bride.
How can you trust a face you cannot see?
How terrible you are to think such thoughts!
Who is she if not simply a woman?
The same goes for the child you call innocent.
Does his chest appear too big for his frame?
A pushcart is a pushcart or else it is
a pushcart with a detonator. There,
unpredictability is certain.
There is no confidence in buying a piece
of fruit as if your life were in your own hands.
Somebody in the crowd cries out, Look! There!
Is that a kite or an angel or a drone?
You see an orange undressed in one long peel,
its thinness begging a child to pull it.
Is the rind string a tripwire? Is the car
left abandoned over there the blast zone?
No, see? The car is his; he looks normal.
Will it explode when he turns the key, or will
he plow into a crowd of pedestrians,
then exit the car wielding a pair of knives?
He and others like him will drive away.
Here. But you always wonder, What about there?
Your “there” is another’s “here,” maybe your own.
There, a woman sweeps dust from her fruit booth.
No one who expects to die pushes a broom.
Today, in America, two prisoners
surprised two guards, killing them with their own guns.
Were the guards caught off-guard because they swept,
victims of the monotony of the day?
The prisoners were aware, planning, sharp,
waiting for the guards to reach for the brooms.
None of us can escape being unaware.
We do not plan to die today, yet someone
plans to take our lives, if not here, then there.
Day after day after day, we congregate
there, and—nothing. Then we send our child there
to buy some fruit for tomorrow’s breakfast.
We know better than to plan so far ahead.
Then we hear it, and we know where it is. Here.