We all see them, but we pretend not to notice.

It was difficult, at first, to not stop in our tracks when we were backing out of our driveways, to not gawp while we were taking our kids to school. You couldn’t not see them, their bodies charred and blackened, obtrusive in their immensity.

We woke up to them there, as if they had always been. When we first saw them, arrived out of nothing, we stared, open mouthed. Our heads craned as far back as they could go to take in the wonder of their undulating necks. Scaled, gleaming dully like tarnished gold. Their heads were so deep in the clouds we couldn’t see them. Only their broad, barreled chests, the hearts, cracked and seeping, beating black on the outside. They stalked through our little town on long, thin legs, like dying river reeds.

Naturally we called the police. Then they called the national guard, who called the military. It only took a few dozen officers down, a few dozen men in uniform lost — their heads ripped off at the necks, their limp bodies flung high in the sky and devoured, snake-like, down those long and winding necks – to know we were no longer in charge. That was the first time we saw their faces, mottled with fury, lips dripping with hate. That was when we truly knew fear.

We stopped our assault. We had run out of bullets that wouldn’t drive through their skin, of knives that broke against their bones, of people unafraid to die.

Now, we walk softly and we only cry a little when we lose another mother or father, an aunt a child a friend. A small sacrifice for a trembling truce.

We all see them, but we pretend not to notice.