What bodies lie here, piled high,
this pyramid of white remains,
all interlocked and interwoven?
As if, though long since death’s been served,
they have snuggled closer than one could
while still alive, to stop the cold.
Was this an ancient battleground,
a holocaust, or rite, the wherewithal
with which to placate some angered deity,
this bitter swath of citizenry, flung
together in a briny pit, a capsulate
portrait of their time, all packed, and ready to be shipped
by this slow venue
for us to view their misery and despair?
Or should one imagine an overwhelming plague
where rushed and overwrought, the diggers
sought to seal from sight
their friends and neighbors to save themselves? O Tel,
O nameless mound!
Your weeds have tears instead of dew.
But what your swaying greenery, and time,
has done its best to cover,
remains a stark reminder of fulsome decay.
For who has gained one brief iota, one single insight,
from this drear miasma?
It rises from the earth with cries of shame,
and fills the air.
That which hands, in the name of Science, handle,
are scribbled plaints that rattle down the ages,
querulous claims that civilization’s frail refinements
had not yet reached this primordial strata.
And yet how different is the sunlight’s glare
from our sharp fluorescents? How many miles
have we traveled from Tel Arma?