The spoils, 1988
(for the 182,000 victims of Anfal, Kurdistan, Iraq)
The little sparrows stopped practicing their first flight.
The sheep died drinking from the water they trusted.
The caves were choked in gas.
The houses were flattened.
The villagers were taken, separated,
those who cried were shot because they cried,
those who didn't were shot because they didn't.
They were kept in the southern sands.
Those who survived the desert were buried together, alive.
The soldiers spoke a foreign language.
The villagers thought they were Muslim brothers
but they spat at the Qura'an the imams held before them,
pissed on the engraved names of Allah,
bulldozed the village mosques.
Anfal came and some survived it.
Of those who survived
some went back and rebuilt their houses.
They washed the roads, perfumed the air,
replanted the trees.
Some couldn't bear to return.
They left for unknown destinations
and started their lives in a new land
speaking in a foreign language.
They got remarried, had new children, found jobs,
laughed and danced as before.
But sometimes, on very hot days
when the land smelt a particular way
listening to music
they would remember Anfal.