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poetry Water

Another bombing, writes Poet Melanie Tafejian, “Ten people died./ Seven of them children….” Another mistake.


By Melanie Tafejian


On the radio: a bombing. Again, 

America’s mistake. Ten people died. 

Seven of them children. I listen as I rinse 

the whole raw chicken under the faucet. 

Then pat it dry with paper towels.

My computer bright with the recipe— oregano, 

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rosemary plucked from my small herb garden. 

The reporter entered the house, recorded

the women howling in grief. I question

the necessity of things. There are no lemons

in the fridge, though I swear I bought lemons. 

Instead, I stuff the chicken with more garlic. 

With bare hands, I massage butter under the wings

over the legs and breasts. A government official

apologizes. The children were running

to greet their uncle, as they did every afternoon.

The children weren’t meant to die. The uncle 

wasn’t meant to die. While the chicken bakes,

over the sound of the radio, I listen 

for the hiss of fat to know it’s done. 

Water. The man had been filling water

at a warehouse to bring to those who had none. 

Who had none as a result of another bombing. 

His car the wrong make, the wrong bright white. 

The jugs he lifted to the trunk sloshed 

and bumped up against each other

as he wound the road for delivery. 

I switch the station to music.

I eat the chicken, the oily fat wetting 

my hands, dripping to my elbows. 

Melanie Tafejian is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. She was awarded first place in the 2021 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest and has work in The Atlanta Review, The Georgia Review, The Los Angeles Review, Nimrod, Poetry Northwest, and Willow Springs, among other journals. She lives in Raleigh, where she is an English lecturer at North Carolina State University. "Water" originally appeared as one of a packet of five poems chosen as a finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry.