Woman Mourning Son [AUDIO]

in Audio/Middle East/World by


Najaf, Iraq

I pull up the blinds, they screech in retreat,
mad grackles beaking for space on the lawn.
I flip open the news and she flutters out,
trailing the blot of her shadow. I yawn,

her mouth yawns and yawns. Like wings, her chador
unfurls over a bare, bleached street. She looks
almost like she’s flying, one leg cut off
by the photo. The shape of her shadow’s

an F-16, the flat plane of her hand
the jet nose, the other hand a missile
tucked so gently beneath the wing. And now
the blot of that shadow’s a flailing bat,

a ragged flag—this black-clad woman’s hands
open and skyward, as if she wants to vault
the blot of this shadow. From above, it looks
just like whirling, a waltz with no one

but chadors and shadows. Now she’s lost
her face in the ink. The road is a white
sheet. Somewhere someone’s hands danced
over a keyboard to deliver the ordnance.


Philip Metres is the author of Pictures at an Exhibition (2016), Sand Opera (2015), and others. His work has garnered a Lannan fellowship, two NEAs, six Ohio Arts Council Grants, the Hunt Prize for Excellence in Journalism, Arts & Letters. He is professor of English at John Carroll University in Cleveland. This poem originally appeared in Sand Opera (Alice James, 2015).

Latest from Audio

Go to Top