Poem of the Week /Soldiers on Their Knees in the Sand

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The setting sun. Credit: Reuters

Soldiers on their knees in the sand

Rachel Tzvia Back

Grandfather who cut his nails
every Friday

before sunset and before his peaceful
Sabbath queen arrived

would save the pale slivers in a box
to be buried with him

Dust unto dust he said
with not a single particle missing

The dream was of the day
the dead would rise

in the next world

mothers watching
soldiers on their knees

sifting and searching for body parts
do not think of next worlds

they think only of
lost worlds:

their sons my sons
the setting sun

building tunnels and towers
in the sand

From On Ruins & Return, Shearsman Press 2007.

“In this last terrible period of violence, a friend of mine reminded me of one of my poems with the refrain ‘my sons, their sons,’” the poet and translator Rachel Tzvia Back wrote in an email this week.

The same sun sets over everyone.

Musings: Have the past several days been an instance of grim life imitating art? Are poets prophets? Will nothing ever change?

Rachel Tzvia Back.Credit: Uri Nevo

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