A Thank-You Letter From the Bomb That Visited My Home 11 Years Ago
I knew that I was gonna change your life. I knew that as soon as I entered your old home in Baghdad. Your dad, Maytham, was holding your sister Maryam in the kitchen. You mom, Hanaa was near the dryer. I found a place between them.
You were away at your grandparent’s home, so we didn't get to meet.
You didn’t know this at the time, but I was a dud missile, designed to destroy but not explode.
I entered your home through the bathroom window, made my way through the walls of the kitchen cabinet, and sneaked through three natural gas canisters. You know those old school ones your mom used for cooking? I’m sorry for leaving gaping holes through each one, I was in a rush. Good thing your dad emptied them out before my visit.
I’ve been reading your articles. I noticed that you mention me a lot, which first made me very uncomfortable. I’m not used to being recognized.
I usually turn children like you and your sister into dust. When meeting new people, my palms tend to be bloody. Haven’t you always wondered why your dad rarely spoke about me? He told you that tragedies always ended with a period. Yours ended with a semicolon. You moved on to great things, but I was still there. Watching.
Most tragedies never fully disappear. They share your breath, your blood, and walk around the ridges of your ribcage when they can’t fall asleep.
But you were different. For some reason, I couldn’t live within you. I couldn’t share your breath or your blood. You wouldn’t let me. Maybe it’s because you weren’t there. I know that every night before you fall asleep, you ask yourself what would have happened if you were there to meet me.
I’m writing to thank you. Thank you for using me for good.
Know that my body changes locations without my permission. I don’t enjoy meeting people. I don’t relish in the destruction. I am designed to collect breaths and keep them to myself. No matter which side I’m working for, this purpose never changes. Us bombs never get to choose who to visit.
You came back to visit me two years ago. You didn’t see my body, of course, that was long gone. But you saw the window in the bathroom where I introduced myself. It was now fixed, but I was still there. You were alone, and the rest of your family was outside. You took out your phone to take a picture of me, but you were out of storage. You laughed at the irony.
You put your phone down, and stared at me. And I stared back. You smiled, and then walked away.
And in that moment, I realized that your survival is my only salvation.
This Poem originally appeared on NPR's All Things Considered on May 25th, 2017.