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AL-MALAIKA, Nazik


Elegy for a Woman of No Importance (or, images from a Baghdad alleyway)


She died, but no lips shook, no cheeks turned white

no doors heard her death tale told and retold,

no blinds were raised for small eyes to behold

the casket as it disappeared from sight.

Only a beggar in the street, consumed

by hunger, heard the echo of her life—

the safe forgetfulness of tombs,

the melancholy of the moon.


The night gave way to morning thoughtlessly,

and light brought with it sound—boys throwing stones,

a hungry, mewling cat, all skin and bones,

the vendors fighting, clashing bitterly,

some people fasting, others wanting more,

polluted water gurgling, and a breeze

playing, alone, upon the door

having almost forgotten her.