Lois Roma Deeley

Rookie (Amityville, New York)

Bougainvillaea And Tv - Poem by Lois Roma Deeley

I am a useless human being.

Tanks are rolling toward a city-
the name of which I remember only from my childhood-
old stories told on an old phonograph.
The Thief of Baghdad?
Ali Baba? And the Forty Thieves?

I have done nothing

but watch TV with the sound turned off.
Sip Temple of Heaven tea from a tall glass.
Press the heating pad against my back.
Pull the covers over my feet. Then I look away,
look out the window and wonder
how the rain brings the Bougainvillaea
into such sharp focus.

I have been doing this for two days now.

Remembering that basement on Long Island,
the smell of mold and rotting wood. That bare bulb
with a metal string I stood under, waiting,
like a prisoner of war for the inevitable
creak of the door opening. Now

on the screen, a dead child lies in the dirt.
Her head is turned to my left,
one arm is bent upward, the other points down-
her small body takes the shape of an iron cross.
Now a woman with a narrow chin, a rhinestone pin
in the lapel of her red blazer, moves her lips.

Now I know I will never understand a thing.
The world talks only to itself.
Rain to war. Child to dirt.
Bougainvillaea and TV.

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, July 16, 2006

Poem Edited: Tuesday, August 17, 2010

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