“Picture of Girl and Small Boy (Burij, Gaza)” by Marjorie Lotfi Gill

Marjorie Lotfi Gill


I would like to tell her not to wear such flimsy shoes,
that rubble contains the whole spectrum of knowable
and unknowable dangers: sheets of metal, ripped
to knife’s edge, live wires, bloated arms still reaching

for light. Her hair, scraped back into a ponytail,
is open to sky; remnants of buildings filter down
one concrete chunk at a time, and the midday bells
of rockets ring out above her. She carries a boy

on her still-narrow hips, his legs entwined around
her life-jacket-yellow dungarees. Like a rodeo rider,
his left arm grips her shoulder to steady himself, or her,
while torso recoils back and away; his body is asking

to slow down, to turn back. Instead, her eyes comb
the ground for a next step, fingers of her free hand
curled into a claw, as if to frighten off whatever
is coming, what she somehow knows is ahead.

Poets Respond
August 10, 2014

[download audio]


Marjorie Lotfi Gill: “A Reuters photograph of a very young girl carrying an even smaller boy through the rubble in Gaza has haunted me all week. Even at such a young age, our bodies and brains are wired to step up to enormous responsibility, become the one in charge, take on the role of protector. To me, the picture is moving because it reveals the greatest thing she’s lost in the conflict: her childhood.”

Rattle Logo