Wednesday Poem

A plume of smoke, visible at a distance
In which people burn.—George Oppen


Love, can I call you that, you called me that the other night, Love, I couldn’t move today, or only sank, fell, falling. Today I slept until I couldn’t and looked for your call. Your message woke me. I replied. Twice, worried you hadn’t gotten the first. And you replied, and I thought, What folly. I cleared and fell asleep again. I looked for you online. Friends post pictures of Gaza in pieces, people in bits. The skyline in plumes. Plume, a pretty word, but who can afford it? I click through the OED, arranged in pixels on my screen. Regarding the souls of poets, Plato said, “Arrayed as they are in the plumes of rapid imagination, they speak truth.” Beholding the Angels Life and Death, Longfellow wrote of “somber houses hearsed with plumes of smoke.” In “The Exile,” Ibrahim Nasrallah, an exile, writes, “Poets surround me like the fruit of regret.” If we began as light, we became flesh and have become information. Light unto sensor into bytes. Digits, pixels. Our daily bread. The news feed: Omar al-Masharawi, eleven months, dead of burns, wrapped in white, borne upon his father’s arms, whose fingers splay across the shroud, steady and soft. More photos. In Gaza City, Jabaliya, more shrouds. Charred blocks in Khan Younis, Beit Lahiya. The dead, the dying. Rubble, stalks of rebar, ash and limbs. Columns of smoke gore the air, choking daylight. Missiles from a distance. And from a distance, plumes.

by Arash Saedinia
from Rattle #54, Winter 2016