On the Road from Damascus by Jessica Mookherjee

I am not a silent poet

In her dress of ash, bone-white and jubilant,

she dismounts her tongue-lolling horse

and hurls her outstretched arms into an orgy of silent men.

He hears only her shriek and noon-crows.

The sky is piercing blue,

dabbed with rosy clouds.

Her stomach-scream wrenches plumes of burning pitch and her slick blade

severs a branch. It gapes at the man

like a toothless mouth.

It hangs on a thread over his naked-soft baby flesh

as a crow pecks his cheek.

Someone’s hand rests on his waist like a lover,

a dark flutter of wings blows his hair as crow picks lice from his beard.

He knows his eyes will be next in the quiet.

The blue is sharp and startling. This blue Damascus sky,

like the sky under which he and Amira lay that day, laughing

and sharing lemonade in the park near the Cedars,

the vivid shock of blue


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