Featured Poem 2/9/06

Looking Back

In sixth grade, I stayed after school to clean
the blackboards because I talked out of turn.
After erasing the day's names and assignments,
I clapped the erasers on the fire escape,
then took a rag, bucket of water, and step stool
and washed the boards for the next day's names.

A woman wearing a dark dress and a little girl
in a bright red jumpsuit lie in their own blood,
                their faces covered by a sheet.
Men in uniforms transport the wounded
in wooden pushcarts, while pilgrims cry
                their anguish to Allah.
Like Lot's wife, the woman is not named,
the girl is a girl. Did the woman look back,
                speak out loud or out of turn?
Soon, men wearing cargo pants and sweaters
will hose away the blood and sweep up the debris.

Tonight, wind and sand will erase all traces
of the woman and little girl in time
                for tomorrow's traffic

Richard Roe
February 2006


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