With sandaled feet upon the sand,
He calls his land “bayn al-nahrayn“:
“The land between two rivers”.
Overhead, the Sun sneers,
Though east, he swears, there lies a river
Of green banks and gentle flow
Where there! a fish shimmers, a boar lurks,
Shoulder-deep in cupric-coloured water.
And north, a dam, a mighty span,
Of earthly fill with core of clay.
Half-submerged in failing karst,
Betwixt two banks and shoulder-deep
In cupric-coloured water.
Heavy weighs the lake behind and for’ard lies the city,
And he swears to me they’ll take it soon.
Flinching in the glare of sneering Sun,
I see the city and see he’s right:
Smoke in the distance.
Hyper-local cacophanies of empyreal fury.
For weeks, he swears, it’s lingered there
The smoke, that terrible noise.
Thus, with sandaled feet, he walks on
– weeping –
His son’s blood curdling in the sand.
There’ll be no rain to wash away,
This gory blemish amongst this nothing.
Meanwhile the sneering Sun over this empty scape,
Beats out the heat of day,
And yonder in those city limits, the tracks of rolling tanks,
Have marked the road
Like tyre marks in clay.
Now that the bridge is theirs.
They’ve crossed the river with momentum west.
They’ll win this fight.
Like the dam – half-sunk, by weight.
The hate-filled calm in-situ waits,
The bridge suspended
Above the cupric-coloured water.
As for the dam,
The walls are there,
Only as long as they can hold.
If they do not, then all is lost,
Those tanks will cross those banks,
Seizing what they have staked.
And like the surly tide, half-ebbed but sure to flow
When it rolls, it takes, all washed away
By cupric-coloured water.