“Iraqi Musician” by Melissa Lamberton

Melissa Lamberton


It has been still and hot all day, with spates of rain
unexpected and astonishing. But now the wind
comes spinning round, as if the song calls it.
He plays an oud, ten double strings, fingers
tracing the chords. Leaves
blow, gold and bronzed, lighting
a whirlwind of fire. Heavy and scented, the air tastes
of arid lands, forlorn and haunting.

He says, Iraq is my home.
He bends his head to the prayer
of an intricate lament.
Lost in this place where nothing seems the same,
the wind uncoils, leaps. Not pouring out
but pulling in, it fills the hollow instrument he holds,
and on its way, brushes each string.
No need for human fingers, here.
The wind will play its own.

This is where we are: hot desert sands
and cobalt sky. Sun-beaten hills, and all else
horizon. All bleakness here, but beautiful:
oases and wellsprings of clear water, and shorelines
white with salt. Oh, and the wind
that makes its own music in rock and sand
without listener, without chords.

from Rattle #25, Summer 2006


Melissa Lamberton: “I still remember every word of the first poem I wrote. I was in second grade, and I thought you could compress all the solemn wonder of nature into five lines about a tree. For me, poetry has always been a tribute to the passage of the moment. Whenever I write, I remember that second-grade girl and once again live in her simpler, more beautiful world. In real life I am a college student and a karate instructor with a secret fascination with medieval weaponry.”

Rattle Logo