It is not praise, but lamentation.
and fails, rot and breakage, a cracking
glassed-in rooms as the voice.
but bitter weeping, stones clenched in the fist,
but the song—something tells me I need it—
the slippery fish, the elusive thread,
cut again and again into this
* * *
HOW IT MIGHT HAVE HAPPENED*
The bomb was meant for you. You had secret lives of which we knew nothing
The bomb was not a bomb, it was a stick of simple dynamite. The men,
One said: Too bad about the car.
How do such bombs get built? I prefer to think of the before. Men in rented
The concrete. That feels real. The look of concrete in sun. A sensation a
The bomb was made by someone who believed. They heard the
the bomb was meant for you, which it wasn't. There was an under-minister or
You walked down that street every day on your lunch break.
Why? Because of the almond trees. Because there was a swallow's nest
No. You had not thought of me in years. Or when you had it
I came to you as chime, a flavor of the wind.
You were in love. You walked down that street precisely because
Almond trees, parked cars, sidewalks stippled with the shadows of buildings
You rehearsed conversations in your head.
When you reached the curb perhaps you were saying. Yes, I, too, feel this
You could picture her face whoever she was. You could picture yourself
I think about the objects damn there, the oceans below us.
The lion of the desert. What is that, you ask? We ask the same
No. That is what you would have said to me.
You were thinking about work.
But they need me, you said.No one needs anyone, you said.
You always expected it. That is the other possibility. When you woke
It was not like the flavor of blood or dust. It was faintly sweet
when you a boy, disguised with mint, but redolent of decay.
The almond trees, the concrete, the car. These are the only elements
Your foot long, second toe attenuated. You lift off. I can assert this
*First published in Many Mountains Moving. Both poems appear in Black’s latest book Love/Iraq.