Psychopomp Magazine Spring 2016 - Page 29

Rachel's eyes are round and unblinking like a bird's. Her hair sticks out in strange places like ruffled feathers. Her sweater is pulled tight and then falls loose again with the restlessness of her wings as they try to unfurl, but are restrained.

They've got to stop, she repeats. If we could just do a spell or something.

You can't just do a spell, says Julie. You're not a witch.

I say nothing. Rachel says nothing. A pile of snowy white feathers lies on the ground beneath us

& in the quiet minutes between firing rounds, Rudy and I make fun of my sister, how she thinks she's a witch. We quote her letters to each other and laugh

& ash rains on us from above, and we wipe it out of our eyes, smearing our faces with smoke. The fire rages, emitting immeasurable amounts of thick black smoke that transforms the sky above into sticky darkness. We breathe in cinder and it settles in our lungs like lead

& we sit back, lean against the dirt wall of the trench, and we watch napalm fall from planes and think, for a second, about how pretty it is, how graceful. You can tell napalm by the way it falls: it sort of flutters, doesn't just drop like a regular bomb. The NVA are so close to us, that when the napalm hits the ground, we see immediate fire, we see its victims alight in the shadows. I thank my sister for each cease-fire, each bird that sings from the trees that still stand

& the sun has left, our mothers have left, the firemen have left, our brothers

Kelly Kiehl | 29