Priya Sarukkai Chabria

War Poems from Babylon and Persia, 2005


Fatima, mother of Sohrab, says:

I heard the news and rushed
to my son.

His arm lay on the street
the fingers curled.

His arm lay on the street
the fingers curled
that had touched my breast
that had beat his brothers
that had loved his wife
that had held his child.

I carried his arm
as a flagpole
through the wailing
streets though his blood dried on me
and my body dried to the bone.

I waved his arm.
I asked for my son.

The soldiers pushed
me back into the wall of wailing.
I clutched his arm
though his fingers had clenched
into a fist of stone.

on our streets that are littered with fists
and where mothers turn to stone,
our curses become wishes
that will release
into your unborn children.
Your fetuses will squirt out of wombs as pebbles —
that are not smooth, but pitted.
Remember this.


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