In a small way, the foreign residents
Are rounded up—the Spartans sit and comb
Their hair, watched by the Persians from their tents—
Rationing starts—the diplomats go home—

But all discretely, ordinarily—
Toy Lusitanias sink in the bath—
So with no end in pomp and amnesty,
No noisy choking on the wine of wrath.

And next door, in my living room tonight,
My “Who could tell?” is an unending scene
Of teenage mourners burning flags: I might
As well transmit that to a simmering screen.

The child is laughing still, at three years old,
In the yard with its invisible tanks on track.
She’s with her aunt and hasn’t yet been told.
Her diplomats are never going back.

Sarah Ruden has published several books, including, most recently, The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible and a new translation of Augustine’s Confessions.

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Published in the January 8, 2016 issue: View Contents
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