When they came,
they brought with them fireworks of noise.
They came through the streets riding elephants,
and clutching their toys.

I thought it was a circus.

I wanted to greet them,
and shake hands with the clowns.
But these clowns wore
frowns of steel
and vulture eyes circling,
like radars or searchlights.

I wanted magic tricks.

So with the flick of a wrist
the wizards could paralyze targets,
who ran like antelopes or crawled on all fours.

At night, black ghosts walked through the walls,
the windows or rose up from the floors.
While fire breathers burnt our homes,
I thought it was all a fancy show.

There were tightropes stretching
from one roof to the next
and little acrobats balancing.

Some slipped while others walked on
accompanied by a never ending drum roll.

I applauded.
I cheered.

Then we were told
we could all be part of the act.

Blindfolded. Hands up. Single file. Lined up

against the wall.