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Elegy for No One

Somalia. Eritrea. Burkina Faso.

Myanmar. Honduras. El Salvador.

This morning I can’t unread

How the onion the leek seller

Summoned to retrieve

The corpse of her son

Finds his head on the soccer field

The soldiers drinking grinning

You must take it home they say

Carry it through the marketplace

Following her jeering

Are you going to make soup

She must find a box a bucket

A secret patch of garden

Safe from scavengers

Animal / human

Who would unearth the skull

Keep the boy unparadised

This mother having unslept

These many nights unable now

To untongue prayer her soul

Unspooling into sky into sea

The name of her son

Unmourned in any history

Unchalked on any stone


Michael Waters' recent books include Sinnerman (Etruscan Press, 2023), Caw (BOA Editions, 2020), The Dean of Discipline (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018), and a co-edited anthology, Border Lines: Poems of Migration (Knopf, 2020). A 2017 Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of several Pushcart Prizes and NEA, Fulbright, and NJ State Council on the Arts Fellowships, he lives without a cell phone in Ocean, NJ.


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