I wrote this strange little poem a few years ago. It wasn’t prompted by anything happening in the Middle East, but as I revisit it now, there is some element of lament that resonates with my current lament for the people in Gaza and Israel.
Some Songs Required
by Rose Marie Berger
Down the river from Babylon
there was a city of Dales,
not quite like Zion. In Nutdale,
Elmdale, and Oakdale people sat
two by two in boxes neatly stacked
where they wept without knowing why.
Upriver, Babylon heard only their singing
in a special language of clicks and snaps;
not in the stringed language of the lyre,
that riffled and flowed over the feet
of the Stored Ones. True too that the Dale-dwellers
babbled in a tongue fewer and fewer of them
could understand. Instead they stared:
at each other, at the river, pointing out the little
heads of children, afloat like golden boats
on the current. While Babylon, teeth sharp
from gnawing on its platinum
bedpost at night, reached down its
right hand to touch the flag hanging
limp between its legs. A single gold tear
slipped away to tell the others.