My friend says that everything
is anthropology: chess players
in Tompkins Square, the line
of cars at Starbucks, preteen girls
filming Tik Tok videos.

But the young girl, baby soldier,
M16 swaddled to her chest,
she faces straight ahead,
guards the airport
immigration officer who stamps
my passport. I, in from the sky
in my jet lagged haze, notice
her eyebrows, the child
perfect arches, pressed
into the parchment
of her adolescent face. 
She, innocent visage,
sharp-eyed babe, holds a gun
that could split me in two. 

Everything else
might be anthropology,
but this girl,
she is a poem.


Image by Mario Cesar from Pixabay

Martha Phelan Hayes

Professor Martha Phelan Hayes teaches English at Gateway Community College in New Haven, Connecticut. She is a poet and essayist whose work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including CHEST Journal, Everyday Poems, Freshwater, Fresh Ink, Journey to Crone: A Book of Poems, Naugatuck River Review, Orpheus, OxMag, The Penmen Review, The Slippery Elm, and Vermont Literary Review. Her poem “Elle Clare” won first prize in the 2010 Central Connecticut Poetry Contest sponsored by Altrusa International.