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from the October 2003 issue: Checkpoints: Literature from Iraq

Five Crosses

We stopped in five stations and did not leave a souvenir.
We did not shiver there, or get drunk, or strum a guitar.
Five rivers of sand on the guitar.
Five crosses made of silence:

You are sad;
I wipe the dust of the broken world off your eyelashes.
You are naive;
in our desert you are hoping to set sail.
You are tired;
your hair spreads shade between wakefulness and rain.
You are alone
as if we never shivered, or got drunk,
or strummed a guitar.
Bitter thirst on your lips, journeys in your eyes,
you are a dark sapling
flowering in the dark.
I touch my voice when I touch your leaves.

O five stations without a souvenir . . .
O five rivers in a guitar . . .
O five crosses made of silence . . .

Do not leave me tonight crucified on the walls.

Basra, November 11, 1961
October 2003
Checkpoints: Literature from Iraq
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