As We Understand It

As We Understand It

Waves of cicada sound
rise and fall on the breeze,
like tree shamans summoning
a storm.
I’ve been waiting for the sound
all summer, for the sign of the familiar
still in place, for the reassurance
even though it counts for waning
as the light fades more quickly into dark.

The world went mad again today
and nearly displaces all my gratitude.
The Brits have been arresting people since dawn
and we are alive once again with foreboding.
Bombs on planes was the idea –
earnest young men hunched over in bathrooms
mixing volatile liquids
hands shaking, deep in prayer.

Would that I could sit with these young men
and speak to them of mercy and compassion,
take them into my home, feed them
and clothe them and love them like brothers.
Give me the years taken from them
in misguidance and false teaching!

My prayers have hardly begun to ease
the pain of September 11th. After five years
I am still haunted and tremulous,
and the opening down to the subway gapes
like a waiting tomb.
Again, I am no stranger
to death, have shared a room with it,
watched it take like a greedy child.
And yes it makes me angry.

Still I am convinced that we are
on the wrong path – our shared humanity
is nowhere on the scene, and our decision
to arm ourselves to the teeth and kill them
before they kill us does nothing but
prolong the agony of our separate souls.
It is true, you may not kill me,
but neither may you kill my certainty
that the words of our prophets, our perfected ones,
hold the Truth as we commonly understand it
for thousands of years.

PBSweeney August 11, 2006


2 responses to “As We Understand It

  1. A beautiful poem on the pain and heartbreak and misery of war, and the hope for peace in every holy book. If only they would listen.

  2. Salamaat,
    i am really feeling this poem.

    may God give us the strength to hold on to the certainty you speak of (amin).

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