By: Ayush Pandit

They’ve run out of garbage bags to use as body bags.
Power lines cracked in half like splintered pencils are strewn through the streets
neighborhoods panic as the ground forgets what being solid is again
aftershocks bigger than most earthquakes bend steel and rebar
like toddlers bend fuzzy pipe cleaners.
My dad speaks to my 3 year old cousin
born in Nepal 5 years after I left
“Uncle, why is the ground shaking?”
I can barely hear him over the sounds of sirens
a cacophony that is a funeral song for those 
pinned to the underworld by concrete slabs
“Uncle, will it be alright?”
The empty beeps of the telephone cord wrap around my neck
choking out half-truths and false optimism
until only pellets of reality remain.

I woke to the sounds of my people dying
Torrents of headlines sweeping like mudslides
carrying mugshots and scrolling white on black text names dismembered
from people reduced to tally marks on body counts.
The telephone line is down; there is no power; there is no water;

And then I learn
my government in Nepal couldn’t afford to pay for earthquake resistant housing 
with banknotes and defaulted with 10,000 death certificates.
10 years lost to a civil war
10 years lost to political bickering
10 years swallowed up by the rubble of a nation that was already dying.
10 years since I’ve been home
Now, I wonder if when I return I will greet my people
or their ashes.