Wednesday, November 22, 2006

'The Name Of the Road is Your Name'

Just another week in the Iraqi civil war:

On Sunday, a suicide bomber killed 22 day laborers in Hillah and 70 other people were killed or their bodies found throughout Iraq.

On Monday, 92 people were killed or their bodies found, including a popular TV comedian, doctor, judge, two university professors and a journalist.

On Tuesday, 24 people were killed or their bodies found, including a security guard for the head of the national parliament and four university professors.

On Wednesday, the U.N. announced that Iraqi civilian deaths hit a record 3,709 in October. (That extrapolates out to 42,653 American deaths if there was comparable carnage in the U.S.)

On Thursday, over 200 Shiites were killed in a concerted suicide bomb and mortar attack by Sunnis on Sadr City, the huge Baghdad slum. The Shiites responded by firing mortar rounds at the Abu Hanifa mosque, the holiest Sunni shrine in the capital.

Lam Thi My Da is a celebrated Vietnamese poet. She is writing about her homeland in "Bomb Crater Sky," but her powerful words apply to what the U.S. has visited on Iraq, as well.

BOMB CRATER SKY
By Lam Thi My Day

They say that you, a road builder
Had such love for our country
You rushed out and waved your torch
To call the bombs down on yourself
And save the road for the troops

As my unit passed on that worn road
The bomb crater reminded us of your story
Your grave is radiant with bright-colored stones
Piled high with love for you, a young girl

As I looked in the bomb crater where you died
The rain water became a patch of sky
Our country is kind
Water from the sky washes pain away

Now you lie down deep in the earth
As the sky lay down in that earthen crater
At night your soul sheds light
Like the dazzling stars
Did your soft white skin
Become a bank of white clouds?

By day I pass under a sun-flooded sky
And it is your sky
And that anxious, wakeful disc
Is it the sun, or is it your heart
Lighting my way
As I walk down the long road?

The name of the road is your name
Your death is a young girl's patch of blue sky
My soul is lit by your life

And my friends, who never saw you
Each has a different image of your face

* * * * *

Thanks to RubDMC at My Left Wing for sharing the poem.
Photograph by Darko Bandic of
The Associated Press.

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