By Janet Parkinson /Poems Against War
Baghdad’s morgues are full. With no space to store bodies, some victims of the sectarian slaughter are not being kept for relatives to claim, but photographed, numbered, and quickly interred in government cemeteries. Men fearful of an anonymous burial are tattooing their thighs with names and phone numbers.
–Associated Press, November 13, 2006
Jalal Ahmed 07901 295135
Ali Abbas 07901 567256
Atheer Mohammad 07901 469798
are incised on my thigh.
My wife sees them when we make love.
I see them when I bathe, change clothes.
They are high enough to be covered
at the beach. I do not want
the world to know my fear.
I do not want the world to know
I have reason to fear.
There is thinking that neutrals
are not attacked. But there are only two sides,
and they change with each conversation.
My wife is afraid these men will die first,
and there will be no one to tell her
about me. She wants her name,
our phone number on my thigh.
But you are engraved on my heart, I tell her.
I will not have you exposed.
Janet Parkinson is a poet, editor and writer in Rhode Island. Her work has appeared in Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Arsenic Lobster, and Abyss & Apex.