War Zone

Margarita Engle

The children have learned to fly back and forth to school, dangling from steel cables suspended high above the flooded rain forest floor… no trails or roads in this realm of jaguars and guerrilla camps.

The children cross chasms and gorges, first climbing cliffs and trees, then rappelling to heights, and sliding along the cables, older children carrying the younger ones in sacks of coarse burlap, like small, helpless creatures being delivered to market. Nameless villages are hidden far below.

The river is black.

There are angels in the water.

From their place in the sky, children see the white fog and green wildness… it’s a place so familiar that each child in flight accepts an airborne existence as normal… nothing is impossible here, no miracle of daily survival ever seems completely new.

Margarita Engle is a botanist and the Cuban-American author of Singing to Cuba (Arte Publico Press), Skywriting (Bantam), and The Poet Slave of Cuba (forthcoming from Henry Holt). Short works appear in journals such as Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, Caribbean Writer, and Hawai’i Pacific Review. Awards include a Cintas Fellowship, a San Diego Book Award, and most recently, a 2005 Willow Review Poetry Award. Margarita lives in central California, where she enjoys hiking and helping her husband with his volunteer work for a wilderness search-and-rescue dog training program. E-mail: Englefam[at]Earthlink.net.

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