Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

War

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

War

Article excerpt

If this is what we studied for,

heads bent over books at wooden desks

engraved with the names of the dead,

then I have a new feeling for

subtraction.

Olive trees, three acres slashed

equals zero zero zero.

That's my address. The grade on my page.

If this is the spectrum of pronouns-

you kill, he or she kills, anyone might kill-

then I speak a new language without them.

Words rinse into one another

recklessly-morning, wishes, windows, thick paste

of kisses on a child's warm scalp, riddle, riddle,

tin bowl. No reflection, no wail or ladder,

no lock, no key.

If this is why we bow our heads to pray

in the corner, by the iron stove,

so many years, forgive me.

Forget the words, the posture,

the time of day. Blood aches inside

my veins. Where did we bury Sitti?

Between her sons, unmarked boulder

by the bent tree. I will wait there,

telling her the same story she told me

about the long river of waiting, how some of us

fall into it and are not seen again,

even by the bottom stones. …

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