By Matthew J. Andrews
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Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, 2010
The Kurdish man is first. He doesn’t speak
a language any of us can understand,
so he plays a song with a hand-carved flute,
a haunting tune that soars and collapses,
so expressive I do not need his words.
The Canadian woman is next. She is peace-
hardened, older, her body riddled with bullet
holes from guns not fired. In a bouncing
cadence, as a teacher might, she sings in Swahili
a song she learned around a campfire ages ago.
The American man goes after. He is young,
fidgety with optimism, eyes fixed forward.
He reads a poem, a swaying free verse piece
he wrote that afternoon, about the horror
he now knows, and about the light beneath it.
It is my turn. All eyes are on me, but
I am frozen in the flickering of their fire.
What do I have to offer this soul-soaked
communion? What can I contribute
to this assembly, this global congress of song?
Matthew J. Andrews is a private investigator and writer from California. He is the author of the chapbook I Close My Eyes and I Almost Remember, and his work has appeared in Relief, Rust + Moth, Pithead Chapel and EcoTheo Review, among others. He can be contacted at matthewjandrews.com.
Matthew's other work on Foreshadow:
Jonah and the King (Poetry, March 2022)
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