for the students
Tonight my children are facing live ammunition.
One holds a rock, one brought a Bible, one hides a phone.
The fires of the provocateurs burn so brightly.
The police put duct tape over their badges.
The soldiers are hooded; they wear no insignia.
Last night they had rubber bullets, tonight hollow-point.
In the smoke you see the outlines of a bank, a cathedral,
absent as the profiles of Presidents on coins.
A voice advances, a voice retreats, someone aims.
Have you ever died in a dream? What happened then?
Tell me what happened! There is only one life.
How long will I hold mine like water in cupped hands?
Excerpt from A COUNTRY OF STRANGERS by D. Nurkse. Copyright © 2022 by D. Nurkse. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC, New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.