Poetry Feature: Lessons of History

June 11, 2015

Robert Capa, Young girl at refugee transit center. Barcelona, Jan. 15, 1939. © International Center of Photography.

I wasn’t even born,
never saw a soldier point a rifle
into the face of a woman, her hair
beginning to gray, run red.

I witness from a distance
the dark-eyed girl in Capa’s photo
snuggled on a rice sack
in a train station.

Her pose wistful: to where railroad
tracks began and will end,
longing for her parents
who for no personal fault
but only the hazards of a war
misplaced their daughter.

Her eyes alive
as a child dreams alive.
it’s unlikely
so many years later
she’s alive anywhere else.

Behind me, quick footsteps,
children coming close, asking
children’s questions.

Who is she? Where did she go?
What will we do next time?

–Peter Neil Carroll


Reprinted from The Mas Tequila Review, #10 (Winter 2015).