Elijah Dreaming

1 Kings 18-19

Iraq, 2004

 

Brother,

 

I dreamed again of famine

in Baghdad, through the earth,

a tongue, a child crying Elijah

is come to kill me.

 

We summoned four hundred

brought them down

slit their throats

and made a trench.

I am the only

surviving.

 

I have seen the noon bare

her breasts for a little attention:

a green olive shawl

over the branches of white

blossoms. Like shade,

she says even the cactus

gives milk.

 

“Why are you here, Elijah?”

 

In Syria, in Baghdad:

the white broom juniper –

 

Through the Mojave and Sierra:

your joshua –

 

I am afraid.

 

It’s a day’s journey

into the dunes

to summon the grave:

I am no better than my fathers.

 

Our grandfather, an old man

fills a small canvas bag

with blossoms, the brush

too tall for his reach.

He makes me take it.

Grandmother says he does this

because he is dying.

I can feel her

bones inside me.

 

The sky grains brittle

with wind, and a heavy yashmak rain

the wind, a quaking,

a fire, a tiny whispering sound –

 

And I thought of the Anasazi

And I thought of Israel,

stacking stone upon stone,

so I hid my face and stood

at the entrance of the cave,

took the old road back.

Oh, my brother,

let the desert throw her cloak

over you.