SPLIT THIS ROCK: Poems of Provocation & Witness

Sarah Browning



In memory of TV anchor Raiedah Wazan, whose body was found dumped on a Mosul street, February 26, 2005.

The bent heads of daffodils
mark the neighborhood this early spring –
along the banks of Rock Creek
and in the produce section of the Safeway.
I may not stop this war, but I can keep on
telling the story of war: the Iraqi journalist, abducted
with her 10-year-old son, the boy released two days
before the neighbors found her body.

I imagine their final talk, mother
and son, how she bends to him,
knowing it will be the last time she breathes
the back of her son’s neck, its willow reach.
I listen for her words, how they speak
the smooth pebble of love, try to teach him
memory and warm bread in the one
day before the boy walks away from the jeep
and into the pages of the newspapers.

I decide to forgive spring its coming,
despite despair, despite the artificial limbs
proliferating up the street at Walter Reed.
The limbs may stink of new rubber,
the city of its guilt, plotting the moment
when the mother must finally let go
her son’s hand, but I
can sing in the mud, hold my own son.
I can know he will come back to me.



Second Inauguration

A man walks into a wedding
and detonates – lace and sweet cakes.
Who imagined love was immune?
One body alone has chosen this future.
We choose to object, cardboard coffins
in our streets. But we’ve nothing
to draw the cameras, or even the cops.
We make love and weep. We cannot stop.



Sarah Browning is coeditor of D.C. Poets Against the War: An Anthology and coordinates the group of the same name. Her first book of poems, Whiskey in the Garden of Eden, was published by The Word Works in 2007. She is the recipient of an individual artist fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities and the People Before Profits Poetry Prize. She hosts the Sunday Kind of Love poetry series at Busboys & Poets and is organizing Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness, to be held in Washington, D.C. in March, 2008. Read her blog at http://sarahbrowning.blogspot.com/.

Published in Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 2008.

Read more by this author:
Sarah Browning
Sarah Browning: The Whitman Issue
Sarah Browning's Intro to The Wartime Issue: Vol. 7, No. 2, Spring 2006

Sarah Browning: DC Places Issue

Sarah Browning: Museum Issue
Sarah Browning: Tenth Anniversary Issue
Sarah Browning on DC Poets Against the War: Literary Organizations Issue
Sarah Browning: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue
Sarah Browning: Floricanto Issue
Sarah Browning on Lucille Clifton: Poetic Ancestors Issue