A Wedding at Cana, Lebanon, 2007

Tom Sleigh

 
He said, "It is terrible what happens."
           And "So, Mr. Tom,
do not forget me"—an old-fashioned ring, pop tunes,
salsa! salsa! the techno-version of Beethoven's
Fifth, Fairouz singing how love has arrived,
that's what he heard after they dropped the bombs,
his ambulance crawling through smoke while cellphones
going off here here here kept ringing—
how the rubble-buried bodies'still living
relatives kept calling to see who survived.
And when he dug through concrete scree scorched black
           still smoking
from the explosion, squadrons of jets droning overhead,
houses blown to rebar, he saw cellphones'
display lights flashing from incoming calls
and when he flipped the covers, saw phone camera pics,
pics of kids, wives, dads, single, grouped, some wearing
silly party hats, scenes of hilarity
compacted on the screen: it was "not good"
he said, to have to take the phone out of the body
part pocket: Hello—no, no, he's here,
           right here, but not
and then he'd have to explain...and so he stopped
answering. A soft-spoken young man
studying engineering, only moonlighting
as an ambulance driver, he stood at
the crossroads where Jesus turned water
into wine and where, rising out of rubble, floating down
the cratered street, bride and bridegroom came walking
in the heat and as they came the wedding guests held up
cell cameras clicking when the couple climbed, waving,
           into TRUST TAXI
blazoned on the car's rear windscreen. The muezzin's
nasal wail began to blare all over town, and the pair
drove off to ululating shouts and cries, firecrackers
kicking up dust in the square. The show over, we
got back into our car, our tires crunching
over rubble. As I sat there rubbernecking
at a burned-out tank, he shrugged: "All this—how embarrassing."
And "I hope this is the story you are after."
 
Copyright 2011 by Tom Sleigh. Reprinted from Army Cats with the permission of Graywolf Press.

Poems by This Author

Blueprint by Tom Sleigh
I had a blueprint
On the Platform by Tom Sleigh
The omen I didn't know I was waiting for
Oracle by Tom Sleigh
Because the burn's unstable, burning too hot
Round by Tom Sleigh
Somebody's alone in his head, somebody's a kid
Space Station by Tom Sleigh
My mother and I and the dog were floating
Stone God and Goddess in an Ark by Tom Sleigh
Out of the stone ark that carried them this far
The Parallel Cathedral by Tom Sleigh
The cathedral being built


Further Reading

Related Poems
After Bombardment, Sonya
by Ilya Kaminsky
Poems about Tragedy
#4
by Jane Miller
Blood
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Falling
by James Dickey
Imagine
by Kamilah Aisha Moon
Montparnasse
by Ernest Hemingway
Oklahoma City: The Aftermath
by Ira Sadoff
Poem for Japan
by Matthew Zapruder
Shirt
by Robert Pinsky
Song ["When I am dead, my dearest"]
by Christina Rossetti
Survivors--Found
by Joan Murray
What God Knew
by Marianne Boruch
You Can't Survive on Salt Water
by Kalamu ya Salaam
Poems About War
Henry V, Act III, Scene I [One more unto the breach, dear friends]
by William Shakespeare
The Iliad, Book I, Lines 1-15
by Homer
War Music [Down on your knees, Achilles]
by Christopher Logue
April 27, 1937
by Timothy Steele
At Bay
by Carl Phillips
Bagram, Afghanistan, 2002
by Marvin Bell
Before the Deployment
by Jehanne Dubrow
Death Fugue
by Paul Celan
Dulce et Decorum Est
by Wilfred Owen
Eighth Air Force
by Randall Jarrell
For the Fallen
by Laurence Binyon
For the Union Dead
by Robert Lowell
Forms of Range and Loathing
by Ruth Ellen Kocher
Grass
by Carl Sandburg
I Have a Rendezvous with Death
by Alan Seeger
I Hear an Army
by James Joyce
i sing of Olaf glad and big
by E. E. Cummings
Memorial Day for the War Dead
by Yehuda Amichai
Mosul
by David Hernandez
My Father on His Shield
by Walt McDonald
Peace
by Henry Vaughan
Peace
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Phantom Noise
by Brian Turner
Poems about War
Romance
by Charles Reznikoff
Ships That Pass in the Night
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Spoken From the Hedgerows
by Jorie Graham
The Battle Hymn of the Republic
by Julia Ward Howe
The Coming of War: Actæon
by Ezra Pound
The Czar's Last Christmas Letter: A Barn in the Urals
by Norman Dubie
The Fall of Rome
by W. H. Auden
The Long Deployment
by Jehanne Dubrow
The Mask of Anarchy [Excerpt]
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
The War After the War
by Debora Greger
The War Works Hard
by Dunya Mikhail
The Wound-Dresser
by Walt Whitman
Untitled [1950 June 27]
by Don Mee Choi
Veterans of Foreign Wars
by Edward Hirsch
War and Hell, XVI [I am a great inventor]
by Ernest Crosby
War Is Kind [excerpt]
by Stephen Crane
War Rug
by Henri Cole
Web Prayer for Milosz
by David Wojahn