Lieutenant Salah Jamil

- An epic -

No breakfast in the photo,
only a cage,
your head, slightly inclined backwards.

Later, they shot you, and threw you in Diyala, or Tigris, or in a grave.


I confess, I only took notice that it was you.

I was incapable of strong feelings although we were neighbours,
and we used to chat at weekends, in the narrow building at Sa'ddon Street in Baghdad.


Now, exploring in my memory, I find a burned out site.
It seems that on the day I saw you in that photo,
a devastating crash occurred.

Here is the wreckage,
Here is the scar.


You will never read this poem.
But would anyone else read it, hundreds of years from now?

Yes, if the stone can resist
its desire to fly,
and is not exhausted
from watching the nonsense
of stars being born and dying.

Anwar Al-Ghassani
May 2, 1995
Published in Pen International (London),
Vol. 46, No. 2, 1995, page 104.