The images stand between him and the rest of a life
that began again in the long crossing.
On the edge of a pit, he starts snapping heirlooms.
I find them in a box, yellowed, inevitable
these interceptions of the breath, history as a cocked hat.
How surprised he would be by the mobile, the audio.
And the day is breaking, scarred grass with its golden need
searching out names. The burn that cinders olive trees
into ghastly shapes, thick-framed lenses I chose to keep
not knowing whose, the identity cards.
They are called animals. We. What strangers to each other
what beasts that kill for something beyond meat.
Can you see their tracks? The red tongues lolling
a river like a chalice. Tanks and donkey carts, makeshift graves.
Hearts dry in the sun, amulets strewed along the borders
wind uncovering women’s hair, their pockets stuffed with rice.
After the storm that cannot be God, all hands reload.
Play us that symphony, polyglot and sweet, chords trembling
when strings are plucked. Toss scraps of sound
to whatever can still hear.
About the Poem
In response to the horrific news from Israel and Gaza, the counterbalance of music that transcends racial and religious prejudice, although peace seems increasingly elusive in the Middle East as well as elsewhere, this poem. One day there may again be the solace of such an orchestra.
About the Author
Carol Alexander is the author of three poetry collections, the most recent of which is Fever and Bone (Dos Madres Press). Her work appears in About Place Journal, The Common, Denver Quarterly, Mobius, Mudlark, One, RHINO, Southern Humanities Review, The Summerset Review, Sweet Lit, Sweet Tree Review, Stonecoast Review, Third Wednesday, Verdad, and elsewhere. With Stephen Massimilla, Alexander co-edited the award-winning anthology Stronger Than Fear: Poems of Empowerment, Compassion, and Social Justice (Cave Moon Press, 2022). A new collection of her poetry is forthcoming in 2024 from Glass Lyre Press.