Poem for Kayla Mueller | Erica Bodwell

“She had always been the unidentified, lone female American
hostage of the Islamic State. ’There is a lot of murkiness about
what she was doing there. That’s been the problem — no one
really knows,’ said one adviser.”

New York Times, February 6, 2015

What did she do when she bled, all those months
In captivity – did the pale Aleppo moon keep track? Unidentified,
Lone female. Did that gun-scented rush ease her awake,
Was it the rifle tap on her shoulder, the creak of her cell door

Opening – in captivity, did she sleep? What was she doing there –
How murky! – accompanying a man,
His arm resting on her shoulder, Aleppo moon chalky at twilight –
Alternately described as her Syrian friend or colleague

What was she doing there, with him? His dark – murky – skin,
Did they make love, when she bled –
Did they pray? This man – either her boyfriend or her fiancée,
Who was released after several months – did she beg to go with him

To Aleppo? Was she bleeding when he relented? Did the sheets
Stain crimson, did he mouth her breasts, belly, did she fall
To her knees? After several months – the moon in its cradle overhead –
Did he let himself forget?

When, one after another, they pushed into her, did he fall to his knees? It is murky –
What was she doing there? Those long Turkish nights after his release –
Did he sleep on sheets’ stain, uncleansed, afraid to forget? In captivity,
Did he worry – what did they do when she bled?

Erica Bodwell is a poet and attorney from Concord, New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Coal Hill Review, PANK, HeART, Barnstorm, Hot Metal Bridge, The Tishman Review, Stone Highway Review, Cobalt and other fine journals. Her chapbook, Up Liberty Street, is a finalist for the 2015 Coal Hill Review Chapbook Contest, the 2015 Blast Furnace Chapbook Contest and the 2015 Minerva Rising Chapbook Contest.

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