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Winter 2006

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Fall 2005

Witness
Ray Davey

A blood orange sun rises over an Orange-crushed Vietnamese landscape
empty, airless as the moon. A solitary bird-a fruit dove or a cockatoo-cries once
as we cross the border into an overgrown killing field,
stepping gingerly over bleached bones: skulls and femurs of unknown Cambodians.
Kissinger's bombs are a trace memory; the Khmer Rouge have dissolved into shadows
in the forest. They both come back like the rain.

And we carry the tombstones of all the cemeteries.

We walk past the Brandenburg Gate, littered with broken glass we bleed.
They never swept the streets the morning after Kristallnacht .
The irony of "Ich bin ein Berliner," for we know swastikas
are folded carefully away in trunks, under beds, packed away in the cellars.
We stand before cold altars where millions were sacrificed
with such economy, such banality.
That acrid smell still in our nostrils,
we memorize the numbers on their wrists
and listen to the accusing echoes: Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka .

And we carry the tombstones of all the cemeteries around with us.

We walk a rutted road no more than a cow path outside Mogadishu.
On both shoulders we photograph Somali corpses
in casual poses of careless starvation,

An orphanage, a hospital:
cribs and beds overturned
like turtles on their backs,
the exposed underbellies. the soft pink meat.

A cratered schoolroom:
blood-spattered walls,
burned books scattered,
a common garden slug inches across the room in three days.

And we will carry the tombstones of all the cemeteries around with us forever.

So many tombstones, so many corpses, so many graves,
killing fields, crematoria, Kurdistan, Armenia,
a city called Sarajevo, a place called Rwanda,
called Nicaragua, called Chile, called Golan, called New York City, called Afghanistan, called Iraq, called..