I first noticed your eyes, Hasan;
Soulful and brown,
Staring at me fearfully,
Projecting their innocence.

Merely caught in the crossfire of tragedy,
Your eyes had already seen too much.
Worst of all: you had done nothing wrong.
But your father did,
And you paid the price for it.

When your family pulled up to the checkpoint,
In a broken-down, white, Mitsubishi,
I did not expect to find a knife.

Your mother and sister had smiled at me,
They had kind eyes, and faces.
Perhaps- in another world or lifetime,
We could have been good friends.

Your father smiled at me too,
But something wasn’t right.
His smile seemed sincere,
But his eyes gave away the secret.

“Everyone out of the car, now.”

While I checked the car,
You held onto your fathers leg,
Staring at me as if I had robbed you.
What have I robbed you of, Hasan?

Your father broke into a sweat,
Crossing his arms,
To stop his shaking hands.
I could feel his heart sink when I found it.

Under the driver’s seat,
Wrapped in a white cloth,
Was a large serrated knife.

Guns raised,
We separated you from your father.
We separated your father from your family.
We took him away.

You shouted for him in Arabic,
Tears streaming down your face.
Your mother and sister pushed you into the car,
Still desperately shouting, you were driven away.

I knew right then-
I had ended your childhood.

By taking your father from you,
Another father had been saved,
From a painful, and horrid death.

Another child will have a father’s lap to sit on,
Shoulders to ride on,
A hug to cry in,
At the price of you not having one.

Can I be both a monster and a guardian angel simultaneously?

You were raised to hate me-
For me being me.
I was raised to fear you-
For you being you.
So where does this leave us now, Hasan?

I hear you shouting when I try to sleep,
And the image of your eyes has not left me since.

Perhaps one day,
You will understand why I did what I did.
That I was just a girl, a child like you.
That my uniform is just clothing.
That my gun is just metal.
That I have brown eyes like you, Hasan.

I pray your innocence will be restored,
And that you will remember my eyes before you throw the rock.
That you will see me when you pick up the knife,
And then put it down.

Godspeed, Hasan.

About the Author
My name is Abigail Leibowitz, I’m 19, and serve in a combat battalion. I am originally from New York and made Aliyah with my family in 2010.