THE READING OF THE 3,000 NAMES
By Maggie Kelly
The pages stick together soaked,
made sacred by so much blood
the tinny smell of it fills our nostrils
its stain remains like Lady Macbeth's curse.
How shall we get past minute body fragments,
smell of gun powder, murderous mortar dust,
tortured cries, blast of bomb and evil oily smoke
of so-called holy self-immolation that also
ravages these, our fathers, our sisters, our mothers, our brothers
our lovers torn limb from limb into potential oblivion
that can be overcome only by our remembering
by our rendering each and every syllable
of their precious names that set them
apart even more definitely than DNA.
The wanton waste, we here define in lines
of letters and sound, sends gigantic groans
into all the homes of a citizenry that knows
complicit guilt while counting all the dead whom
we the people sent in our name to raze
homes, destroy land, turn into rubble
what had been grand while in the process
the soul of this great nation
can no longer bear the burden that brings
it to its knees in heartfelt pleas to end
such murderous madness we now grieve.
Brothers and sisters whose names we shall read
may you rest in eternal peace knowing that
we honor you, each and every precious life you have given.
—December 28, 2006