by Jeanne Sirotkin

In Saudi Arabia
a soldier says he’s willing to die
to save a few cents at the gas pump
if God is willing
if the President calls
if the dog needs walking
if the clock sings Yankee Doodle
if the movie theatres all run the Three Stooges
on the fourth of July
I want to hold him in my arms
and tell him I don’t know either
why I am in motion
why the sun always rises
why they are chopping down the trees
and slash and burning my heart.

I have taken the veil
no one recognizes me.
In spite of my serenity
each streetlight I pass explodes
strangers peek thru keyholes
erotic postcards arrive daily
I roll on the floor howling
covered with sweat and wet dreams
yet when I leave my home I am safe
no one knows.

I have seen black ghosts
rise from desert sands
I have seen the wind
fan stinging nettles
tiny drops of blood
flowing from all pores
milky eyes that see the future
lines on the palm shifting
the path suddenly overgrown.

Don’t ever trust the knock on the door
the ring of the bell
the call to arms
the required prayer
the pious weeping
the blue jay singing
the unsigned love letter
the road to nowhere
the great gaping hole in the belly you’ve seen before.