The Soldiers Caught the Boys Near the Top
of the Hill
What do we crackers really know about all that? (a friend)
It was scruffy, strewn with stones. God
has given us these stones,
a young man said last week. Now God
gave the stones to the soldiers.
Four soldiers, two boys.
The boys were made to sit,
facing the camera none of them knew was there.
One soldier displayed a stone
as if he wanted the boys to inspect it, smell it.
Another kicked them in the kidneys.
Again. Again. You will hear it said they were all boys.
I didn't see it that way. Maybe
it was the boots, the assault rifles.
One held up the fat boy's left arm and another struck it
with a stone God
had provided. He worked up to the shoulder,
then back down to the elbow.
A few blows along the forearm. Wrist, hand, fingers.
Then back up.
The foreshortened hill was covered with defenseless stones.
The other arm. The other boy.
It went on longer than most news shots. The boys
sat as still as they could.
They didn't try to crawl away. They winced, don't get me wrong.
They didn't beg. They didn't bargain. Stones
lay all around trying to look ordinary,
trying to look like stones.
By Ron Smith
Recipient of the 2005 Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize
Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press
from Moon Road: Poems 1986-2005 by Ron Smith.
Copyright © 2007 by Ron Smith.