Everyone had this strange compulsion
to pause like minarets in the ritual wind
and listen

because they were convinced
that the tautness could not go on

that some day something had to happen
that much was certain but what form
the release

might take could only be guessed at
and lying out on the roof at night
under the stars

I strain my ears trying to imagine
I hear perhaps in the direction of

the faint sound of voices calling
but it is always the presence
of silence

broken now and then by a sleepy rooster
crowing on some distant housetop
or a cat

wailing in the street below or a truck
far out on Mosul Road

bang bang
it coasts down the long hill to the Tigris
fertile old giver of life.

February-March 2003