Wednesday, August 12, 2009


From her fourth-story window, open to the breeze, she looks out over the green and silent square. Overnight, without notice, the soldiers have decamped. In the hours before dawn she had heard the sound of their engines, the rattling of trucks and artillery pieces as they lumbered through the streets, but hadn't bothered to get out of bed. She knew what it meant; it wasn't, after all, unexpected. Now there's an uneasy stillness in the city; nobody's celebrating or settling scores, not just yet. The leaves of the lindens quiver in the morning haze, but no one strolls beneath their shade. A stray dog crosses the avenue, nosing among the benches and windblown pages of yesterday's news for something to eat.

From the other room, behind her, she hears the baby stirring awake. She doesn't call to him but only lifts her hand from where it had rested among the folds of her thin white curtains, turns her back on the square, and goes inside, not thinking if she can avoid it about the fates of things left undefended: cities, nations, fatherless children.

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