Poetry of Provocation and Witness from Split This Rock: Poem #13

The Bomb That Fell On Abdu’s Farm

The Phantoms approached, we were told,
like warps in the sky, like gossip
gone real, aimed in steel
at the eyes of the village.

All the farmers and farmers’ boys ran
to the rooftops and watched,
for it was terrifying
and beautiful to see a wedge
of silver up from the South.

And they began to fall with a
vengeance, under the anti-air-
craft that ringed Damascus and the
villagers whooped for there seemed
a magic field around their fields.

Until a cow-shed flew in red to the sky.
And a mother milking collapsed
in her milk. The milk ran pink.

Nextdoor, in my great-uncle’s newly-
irrigated fields, a bomb fell.
The mud smothered it. The mud
talked to it. The mud wrapped
its death like a mother. And
the bomb with American lettering
did not go off.
Water your gardens always. Always.

– Gregory Orfalea

Used by permission.

Gregory Orfalea is the author of eight books, including. Angeleno Days, which won the 2010 Arab American Book Award and was named a Finalist for the PEN USA Award in nonfiction. The Arab Americans: A History is the definitive study of that community in the United States and Messengers of the Lost Battalion treats his father’s ill-fated paratrooper unit in World War II. Orfalea directed the Writing Program at Pitzer College of the Claremont Colleges and has taught Middle Eastern and Eurasian Emigre Literature at Georgetown University.  Currently, he is teaching Fiction at the Claremont Graduate University, and undergraduate writing  at Westmont College and Cal Lutheran University. His work has been widely anthologized and appears in several textbooks, including the Norton Introduction to Poetry.

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