They refused, resisted rescue. Fire came from the side,
a hot Texas wind. They dangled from roofs and kicked
at agents in yellow-lettered blue nylon jackets. Automatic
weapons crackled through waves of heat. Shaking long range video.
Studio speculation. Whose in charge of this? Fire trucks moved in slow motion.
Shots called from a quiet, cool situation room in Washington.
"They're better armed than we are," we were told.
"All negotiations have failed. They are killing children. We have no choice."
Branch Dividian has set itself on fire." The President danced.
The Attorney General perched, worn, frightened. CNN had her first.
Eyes big and round behind thick lenses she
defended herself from forty-year-old carrion eaters, faces somber,
bright. Clucking, pecking, strutting, roosters competing for air-time.
"Look at the black leather bodies of these children.
Their faces have run off on the floor." Talk shows. Faces of
bereaved families. Interview with a clerk at a convenience store.
Mustachioed, overweight supervisor in a dark suit
and red tie TV debates the obligatory libertarian.
Did the Feds kill these children? Or was it their parents?
Why show the same inconclusive video 150 times in two weeks?
Why tell me more than I want to know? Why do I
want to know at all? There is something righteous
about picking through heaps of garbage for bodies.
Something comforting in the silence
after the bull-dozer driver goes home leaving gulls
and crows to wheel and dive searching for flesh.
© 1995 by John Evans
John Evans is a poet and a lecturer of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Washington.