"The Crying Hill"
Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Yusef Komunyakaa read this poem.
Lately, I've stood between one self
& another self, trying to call across
the gone years, & my voice floats
from a tower of Babel, saying,
Yes, I need my arms around you
to anchor myself. Or, maybe I hear Ray
with the volume turned down, singing
……...…"If I were a mountain jack
………………….........…….I'd call my baby back."
Or, I am hearing again that old man
facing a silent field of land mines,
circled by barbed wire, calling
his daughter's name over a loudspeaker
on his crying hill near the Golan Heights.
The sunlight glints off his eyeglasses.
She arrives like an apparition unbound
from a stone. Whenever he comes here,
he goes away with pocketsful of dirt.
He's lamenting her mother's ashes
given months ago to the Sea of Galilee
one sunset. What is she saying to him,
her head thrown back, her black hair
flowing around her? She has a bouquet
of red roses. But for a second, an eye
blink, he thought she'd been wounded.
Do the flowers mean a birth or death?
A whisper floats out of the loudspeaker.
He remembers when he was wild-hearted,
climbing these hills with his two friends,
Seth & Horus, both dead now for years.
They were kings, three laughing boys,
daring the small animals to speak.
Yusef Komunyakaa's new book is Warhorses.