On a Line from Valery (The Gulf War)
Tout le ciel vert se meurt
Le dernier arbre brûle.
The whole green sky is dying. The last tree flares With a great burst of supernatural rose Under a canopy of poisonous airs. Could we imagine our return to prayers To end in time before time's final throes, The green sky dying as the last tree flares? But we were young in judgement, old in years Who could make peace; but it was war we chose, To spread its canopy of poisoning airs. Not all our children's pleas and women's fears Could steer us from this hell. And now God knows His whole green sky is dying as it flares. Our crops of wheat have turned to fields of tares. This dreadful century staggers to its close And the sky dies for us, its poisoned heirs. All rain was dust. Its granules were our tears. Throats burst as universal winter rose To kill the whole green sky, the last tree bare Beneath its canopy of poisoned air.
From Harping On by Carolyn Kizer, published by Copper Canyon Press. Copyright © 1996 by Carolyn Kizer. Used with permission.