Winter 1999 • Vol. XXI No. 1 Poetry |

The Swiftness with Which Those Cities Fell

1. No Talks That August, reflections grew very brightand flickered at the edgesand appeared on land as well as water. Two faces from the screenglided in the crowd,one a father, strict but fair,the other in shadow. There were voices offstageto praise the firehidden in reason, the laser, the wind at the nucleus: other voices,equally calm, explained the desert, how waiting here will break a man. 2. A Skirmish at El-Nejd War to extinctionagainst a country we've never seen. The recon flights last forever.A pilot returns, telling the camera: "I saw a fire creep up to me.But I was out of reach." Reports from hidden witnessesof polio, cholera,diseases from other centuries. The wells changing hands,then the mirages,then the smoke. The line of retreat on fire. Was it two minds or onethat waited for thisquivering, chose it, conjured it out of vague documentsand the dazzling heat of El-Nejd? 3. The Air Bridge We bombeduntil the enemy was immortal,

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D. Nurkse is the author of ten collections of poetry, most recently A Night in Brooklyn (Knopf, 2012).

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1. No Talks That August, reflections grew very brightand flickered at the edgesand appeared on land as well as water. Two faces from the screenglided in the crowd,one a father, […]

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