Spring reminds her of her garden in Iraq
Where she grilled chicken for her family, she says,
Her voice sonorous, deep‐throated.
Here, in Virginia, rain darkens mulch,
Musk smell rises from the softening earth.
Hana’s charcoal hair, deep eyes.
She rides in my car; I am taking her to lunch.
She is widowed from the war.
Militias, she says, the syllables, petals weighted with rain,
Shooting bombs keeled
The street becomes slick; clouds gather
In the distance. She remembers her car in Iraq
Before leaving everything when they fled.
Yes, traffic, she says. On the way to work.
This apartment not good, she says of the one
The refugee agency found for her and her two daughters.
Her husband was killed for working with the Americans.
New green shoots through dead leaves,
Bark thickens with dew.
Mesopotamia—that word’s ancient breath,
Its vowels’ caress.
I ache to find words for her destruction.
Hana wrote in laced letters directions
To her apartment, then the English beside them.
She gives me the paper. Dolorous lines
frame her mouth and eyes,
Spring’s impossible forgiveness.