Smoke drifts in from camps
where starving men stew
animal hides and rotten meat.
The sultan is angry;
the traveler is put under guard—
he fasts for nine days, reciting,
Allah is sufficient for us,
and most excellent is the Protector.
Freed, he finds an excuse to move on.
On the day I took you there,
a light rain calmed the flies,
and mist masked the smoke that
rose from nearby camps and cars.
There were no children playing
on the muddy field below us,
but near the top of a crumbling
tower, young men smoked,
drunk beer and laughed.
A thousand pillars have fallen and rotted,
leaving only stones, sod and soil.
We lost so much in one short year:
your sister, my niece, some of our
faith in the future of love and freedom.
The city is locked, we cannot go back—
I searched, but found only this:
the Refuge of the World has fallen—
we must build a new refuge, my friends.
Refuge of the World