When the winds drive south from Anatolia,
down through western Iraq and into the Kuwaiti
borderlands, the dunes shift in waves, an ocean
cresting in a swirling of dust the camels traverse
at nightfall. And as years pass by, the wind
presses on, until soon the parietal bones appear,
curving smooth as river stone where no water runs,
until grain by grain an entire skull
emerges, its hourglass sockets
staring out at the world once more.
By companies, by battalions, these skeletons
rise slowly out of the earth, dressed
in moonlight and shadow, their limbs
pointing to the ancient constellations,
the far horizon, cold mountains
to the north. They mark their way
by the fires of nomads, imagining
their own wives and children grown old
these long years apart, how they will rest
among them once they return, wordless.
Some years they spend buried in sand.
In others, they lean into the wind, ravens
asleep on their collarbones. They follow
trails of jet exhaust, which line the heavens.
They walk toward the cities of light.