The mother reached down

The mother reached down

into the out stretched arms

of the dark, curly haired little boy.

So moved by the image,

so universal in it’s scope,

(was I in Korea, Iraq or Iran,

Lebanon, Israel or Sudan?)

I felt a lump well up in my throat.

“Parents everywhere

love their children, don’t they?”

I said to my husband

as we drove through

the streets of Traverse City.

“Of course they do,” he replied

“Then how can we kill them

with machine guns and bombs

and not be torn apart by guilt and grief?”

“Collateral damage,” he said.

“We call them collateral damage.

We make them non-persons.

It happens in every war.

Look at how the Nazis’ referred to the Jews.”

“It’s wrong,” I replied.

“Every human being has value.

Every person should be counted

and their death mourned.

Everyone is loved by someone.

We were all once innocent little kids

reaching up to our moms.”

“I know,” he said.

I spent the next day painting flowers.