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.