First night of Passover, 2017

A poem as relevant today as it was in 1999. It seems we are always bombing something.

during the bombing of Kosovo

Hevel may be translated vanity
or mist or vapor
the name of the first man
whose brother was not his keeper

It is evening it is morning one day
like mist from ten thousand feet
above the hills bombs fall
like vapor the thin air
is full of them
roads crawl with tanks soldiers
like mist tens of thousands
of refugees cross the border
like vapor from morning to dusk
unmanned families
like mist women in slippers
children in bare feet
like vapor carrying blankets
suitcases of clothes
like mist money
ripped off by border guards

Not new under the sun
not new on throbbing bluelit screen
but the eye tires of seeing
the ear of hearing
oh we still prepare our feast
of liberty and memory
we remain your children

And you, you—
father of rain
what are you thinking

—Passover 1999


Alice Ostriker, from the “covenant” poem cycle in the volcano sequence, by Alicia Suskin Ostriker © 2002.

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