Thing 12: Birds Have Names

Birds Have Names

Another helicopter is falling from the sky,
delicate things, these whirling birds of prey.
These Black Hawks and Sea Knights have colorful
names: EZ 40, Tarantula 26, Big Gun 72, Crazy
Horse 08. Do surface to air missiles also have
names? What about bombs? Little Boy and Fat
Man sound like cartoon characters with awful
teeth. Nagasaki would have been spared were it
not for a change in the weather. The ground
is no better than the air for moving troops,
supplies, and weapons. Are fire and water
equally dangerous elements? Do car bombs also have
names? Another 80 people dead in Baghdad. Why
is it even more disturbing to read that the
warehouse stored a great deal of clothing
mannequins, which were scattered on the floor,
in thick pools of blood? Real limbs scattered
among false ones? Do window dressers name
their mannequins, or do they simply say “this
one, that one over there”? Is God really all
that great? How many mannequins were produced
worldwide last year? Would we notice if 34,452
of them were destroyed? Would we care? What if
every person killed in Iraq since the start
of the war got their own mannequin, with its
own special place in the Washington mall, and
its own name, its own little history? How long
is 34,452 moments of silence? How long until the
first cough? What if we forget
to breathe? When did you
stop counting?

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