Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Why I Don’t Mention Flowers When Conversations with My Brother Reach Uncomfortable Silences

Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing
flowers home.
         —
Wisława Szymborska

In the Kashmir mountains,
my brother shot many men,
blew skulls from brown skins,
dyed white desert sand crimson.

What is there to say to a man
who has traversed such a world,
whose hands and eyes have
betrayed him?

Were there flowers there? I asked.

This is what he told me:

In a village, many men
wrapped a woman in a sheet.
She didn't struggle.
Her bare feet dragged in the dirt.

They laid her in the road
and stoned her.

The first man was her father.
He threw two stones in a row.
Her brother had filled his pockets
with stones on the way there.

The crowd was a hive
of disturbed bees. The volley
of stones against her body
drowned out her moans.

Blood burst through the sheet
like a patch of violets,
a hundred roses in bloom.

Credit


Copyright © 2012 by Natalie Diaz. From When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press, 2012). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

Author


Natalie Diaz

Natalie Diaz’s most recent book is Postcolonial Love Poem (Graywolf Press, 2020). She is Director of the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands and is the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe, and lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

Date Published: 2016-03-23

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/why-i-dont-mention-flowers-when-conversations-my-brother-reach-uncomfortable-silences