Susanna Lang

Into the Desert

This is an old story:
women who go into the desert
scarves over their heads
to gather their dead.
No one remembers the name of the battle.
Why should we? As many
battles as generations.
And the women
must still drive back to their city
corpses spilling
from their trunks.

Photograph in Wednesday’s Tribune

She runs across the sand,
a child among the women,
her feet in sandals, another
pair held tight to her chest.
Too big to be hers.
The women keep a hand
on their heads to anchor their scarves,
they set their teeth and squint
against the blowing sand.
But the girl’s eyes and mouth
and nostrils are open in grief

-only her hand is closed
on sandals whose feet are missing.

© Susanna Lang