Genghis Khan

M. Shahid Alam

“I think this is a very hard choice,
but the price, we think the price is worth it.”

Madeliene Albright


When Genghis Khan swept through
Samarkand, he did not shrink

from the hard choices. His men carried out
a general carnage, not sparing women

or children. Afterwards, when Genghis
inspected the mounds of dead bodies,

skulls piled into pyramids, he knew
instinctively (he had been honed for it)

that the price was worth it. Genghis
did not care for carnage – he did not always

see the point of it. But it was Mongol mothers
he had to answer to. If the terror

in Samarkand produced one fewer body bag,
he thought, the price was worth it.

first published in Black Bear Review (January 2001)

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