Written Photographs of Digital Burning City

Sarah Nachimson

after Ocean Vuong

On 19 August 2021, millions of Afghans stuck in Kabul under the Taliban documented their lives on Snapchat’s world map feature, displaying their humanness.

A post: snaking waterway shallower than hasty graves greets clothed congregation 
               that ask a current
                                            swallow them to safety.
On video, pixelated men in coats that refuse to desaturate await
               beside chain-link fence, beside border to destination
beyond cellphone camera chronicles. 
Desperation creates blade, 
              slices through, 
cleaves crowd to two shores embracing bridgeless river, 
     one side for sparse fortunate, kneeside bags in lieu 
                                                of feverish verbal farewells, 
other shore makeshift homing stateless souls.
               Next post: a lad looks for Taliban companion
to play Minecraft.
               Next post: a moonless night upon a city
of souls not yet ghosts. Lights of houses sit upon 
               the horizon like glinting sea surface skeining 
sunrays into watertop ornaments, in this video, 
               oceans of homes stay calm, bombless skies
gift dwellers another silent lullaby. 
               Next post: adolescent opens Call of Duty
in preparation for an in-person version of digital simulation. 
               Next post: anonymous fingertips cry Afghanistan is Bleeding 
atop brown background. 
                                             Next post: empty ice scream stores serve scoops 
to gutted childhoods and bodiless tables.