At Rashad Psychiatric Hospital

(Baghdad 2004)

They say they’ll come back for me

my brothers I don’t trust

them the nurse locks me

in this room windows

barred like a bird’s cage I sit

on the floor solving the puzzle

of iron bars I tried forcing

apart bruising my arms purple

where they un-forgave me like brothers

sometimes I fly to a branch

on the date palm to sing

with sparrow so many

dead from the bombing bits

of charred feathers drift outside

my window tiny souls rising

toward heaven with the soul

of my baby sister mother afterwards

I could not find them calling

calling their names mother

baby sister crushed

in each other’s arms under

the roof I tried to lift

them free each night the bomb

falls on our house each night

they catch fire their souls rising

with sparrows each night

I find strength lift

the roof higher

—Joan I. Siegel

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