Babylon

What did you take
when Babylon burned?
A stone, a smooth-rough palm-
sized kick in the teeth,
no historic indentation
on which to hook trust’s claw.
The same stone that turned
the water flow, sword
at dawn, your eyes like figs
drying in their skins.
Maybe someday your tongue
will be the soldier at the back door,
goat’s head and horns,
goat’s head in smoke,
but for now you just
won’t leave. Terror
exists today too, you know,
I’ve seen it. The citrine-fingered
child in the sand
tells me I can’t go back
ever, and it’s like I’m gasping
for air, no longer fettered,
no Diasporic doubt.
I crush him underfoot
and it’s like this stone, the heart
of the river, floods
from Assyrian wrists,
yellow wine at nightfall.
Sometimes, when an empire falls
you don’t get to move
your mouth. Sometimes,
when an empire falls,
your feet welcome
the fire.

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