This poem depicts the horror of the lingering economic embargo imposed on the people of Iraq after the first Gulf war of 1991.
Basra Has No Tears
This is Basra
the city, the woman, the inner eye,
all grieving the loss
under palm trees in a hospital courtyard
in the Arabian oasis of southern Iraq.
Hassan’s emotions hold Basra tightly
as he stands two feet away.
She nods to his whispers
her voice restrained by etiquette
and choked by grief.
Basra’s Bedouin black grief
clings to shrouds of whiteness,
its bony frame,
a bundle relieved in silence—
The physician’s hands are tied
with the embargo
in a place burdened by sanctions
with no trace of sustenance:
no food, no milk,
not even medication.
All held back
by the deadly murderous
unforgiven sanctioned deaths
of mass destruction
with no names.
lingers on a trail of coffins
in the final resting gardens
where countless tiny fresh mounds
tranced the Innocents’ last hideout.
She entrusts her last glimmer
to the dim depth of the casket.
Basra, shaken to her bare bones
stands engulfed in grief
her one tear dried by the shock
They hoped this last one