As I slept a small, gentle man handed me a book.
The spine was two strong twigs, the gold cover thin as tissue.
Markings undecipherable: could be Sanskrit, Arabic, Aramaic,
Something even more archaic.
As I run my fingers along the text, each name comes into my head.
I am an Iraqi woman cowering in her house with her children.
I hear her voice, feel the family around her, smell rice,
feel terror rip from their chests like blood-soaked silk.
I see eyes dark with indescribable suffering
I cannot lift my fingers from the pages, name without number.
Extending beyond culture and language into flesh.
Her red paper-thin shawl folds along her black hair down my shoulder.
I am next the suicide bomber, then his adoring younger brother.
I can not lift my hands. I weep as terribly as I've ever wept.
Until it wakes my husband. He pulls me from the dreams of blood.
This morning I call Judith to tell her the dream. I'm still shaky.
She whispers into the receiver, All of America, she says,
is having the same nightmare.
* * * * * * * * *
Missoula Writing Collaborative, a program that puts writers in the classroom to work with students. She has been awarded The McKnight Prize for Literature, a National Endowment for the Arts in Literature, a Montana State Arts Council Fellowship, the Hugo Prize from the University of Montana, and was chosen for the Pudding House Press Greatest Hits Collection. Noethe has also published a teaching text titled, Poetry Everywhere: Teaching Poetry Writing in School and in the Community.
"The Sri-Lankan's Golden Book" was published in Noethe's collection, As Is.