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Poetry

Monumental (1990)

Roger Craik

Parched, outlandish by the sea
it stands declarative:

“The Park of Human Rights”

fresh-hewn 
free

authorizing you and everyone
at liberty to saunter round its ornamental gardens,

inspect the three colossal marble blocks
white as bone

hacked to slabs of arches, each one
justified by lists of names of men

who fell in war or died
of wounds, beneath the legend chiseled there:

her insan uzgur
(“all humans are free”).

Further down the shore
you’ll see a strip of jetty, corridored

with roses, trellises, and lattice work.
There on Saturdays the wedding parties walk

down to the kiosk at the end, for hire,
and there they stand. I’ve watched them many times.

But here – you cannot miss the sight of it –
here a graphite-black gigantic spike

sling-hawsered to a sharp incline,
goes bayoneting high and deep above

the forced-in strangulated shrubs, above
the concrete walkways frozen hot in ripples, up

over the Aegean, the living sea,
torturing the winds. But if, instead, you let your eye

sidle down to where the spike begins
you’ll snag a tousled barricade of wire

installed to barb, to brand the urchin boy whose only aim
is climbing to the highest, the forbidden place, the place –

higher than his friends or anyone can climb – the place
that’s marked in red, or black – with clumsy skull and bones –

yasak

and there, with one corrugated rubbery flap 
of skin, darkening

he’ll stand overreaching everything,
and point, and laugh, and mock.

No explanation’s given of the spike.
No explanation’s given of the wire.
No list of names depends on either.

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