[40] Child Coloring in a War Zone, Jim Tilley

Sitting on the stone steps of her broken home,
mother and father already gone,
only her grandmother left, the girl colors
the jigsaw of the girl in her coloring book,
who’s sitting on the steps of her own broken home
on an empty street. She likes that each piece
is a number because she’s always liked numbers.
She fills in the 1 with sky-blue, then 2 and 3
with leaf-green, wonders what to do
with the number she doesn’t recognize, an 8
fallen on its side. Looking at the plus sign,
she imagines the cross-hairs of a sniper
turning her into a minus. Out of crayons and hope,
she, too, will become a number in a war
she’s been told is not a war. At another 8,
right-side up, her age, she stops, at last
understanding the number 0 she left blank,
her alone in a world no longer here, the shadow
seeping down the page blood-red.

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