A dozen children pose on a hill of garbage in Indonesia,
gap-toothed little girls in sundresses linking arms in the front,
boys with hair in their eyes waving peace fingers in the back.
It's hard to accept their smiling in the sludge midway
through a twelve-hour shift picking for cans and cardboard.
We want the smudged faces, the flies swarming around crying mouths.
We want to save them from the feces and gristle steaming
in the sun, the syringes and carcasses under their bare feet.
Oh, to swoop them from the bulldozers and wrap
their rat bites and rashes, to give them bowls of spaghetti
and tuck them in lavender sheets! But for now, this boy will have
none of it. A few pieces of scrap metal in his burlap sack,
he takes a moment to celebrate, kicking a rotten grapefruit
through two table legs. Goooal! His brother tags him
with blackened fingers, and they run off, their tattered shirts
flying like kite tails. Behind a truck, a little girl bounces as she pokes
through a fresh heap with a stick. She unearthed the arm of a doll
this morning -- the best find in four years of scavenging.
She keeps it in her pocket and all afternoon strokes its melted
plastic fingers. As the sun goes down, she takes it out
and rests it in the crook of her arm, imagines it whole.