By Marie Ponsot
—seen on CNN, autumn 2005, Afghanistan
It’s a screenful of chaos but
the cameraman’s getting good framing shots
from behind one woman’s back.
The audio’s poor. The shouts are slices of noise.
I don’t know the languages.
No hot hit heroes are there.
No wicked people are there.
Achilles is not there, or Joshua either.
Rachel is not there, nor Sojourner Truth.
Iwo Jima flag boys? not there.
Twin Towers first defenders? not there.
My children are thank God not there
any more or less than you and I are not there.
I safe screen-watch. A youth
young in his uniform
signals his guard squad
twice: OK go, to the tanks
and the cameramen: OK go.
The tank takes the house wall.
The house genuflects. The tank proceeds.
The house kneels. The roof dives.
The woman howls. Dust rises.
They cut to the next shot.
The young men and the woman
breathe the dust of the house
which now is its prayer.
A dust cloud rises, at one
with the prayer of all the kneeling houses
asking to be answered
and answerable anywhere.
Marie Ponsot has published several books of poems, including most recently, “Easy” (2009), “Springing” (2002) and “The Bird Catcher” (1998), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Click here for her recently aired profile on the NewsHour.