Flowers and War
When the building falls,
fire-singed little girls run
behind their mothers, dolls in hand,
their small bare feet oblivious
to glass until night when
all things flesh begin to hurt.
Thin boys race behind men
pretending they are men, holding pistols,
shovels, rocks in a sling, running
from smoke, into smoke, into gas,
into unrecognizable time.
Everyone wonders when sleep will
swaddle them again. The elders huddle
in shawls and blankets on the ground,
warming themselves with flames
from a pile of chairs and beds.
Beside them, a young mother suckles
an infant in each arm.
In this chaos, centuries stumble
over one another: grandfathers remember
selling roses on the street, until
the scent of rose oil overtakes the cloud
of rolling soot. Dreams of jasmine
lace the air. Narcissus and capers
bloom on ancient stone walls and tombs.
Fragrance of myrrh rises out of millennia
to quiet the night.
Roselyn Elliott is the author of four poetry chapbooks: Ghost of the Eye; Animals Usher Us to Grace & At the Center; (Finishing Line Press); and The Separation of Kin (Blueline Magazine chapbook award, (SUNY Potsdam). Her poems and essays are published in The Minnesota Review, New Letters, diode, and other magazines. She has served as poetry editor at Streetlight Magazine, and taught writing at VCU, the Visual Art Center of Richmond, WriterHouse, and other venues.