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Tuesday, July 24, 2007


by Marguerite Bouvard

Suddenly the power goes out
in the very last art gallery in Iraq.
The temperature rises
to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
There will be no exhibit
today. Just a few artists
have gathered, those
who have not fled.
Noori al-Rawi cries out
I haven’t picked up
a paintbrush in two years.
I want to burn my art history archives,
rip my heart out.
Hasan, the self-proclaimed
curator of what remains,
is one of the last to believe
in tomorrow. There are no more
hallowed spaces; golden domes
where hearts once soared
are shattered, neighborhoods
and villages are shuffled
like cards, a whole country in exile
within its own borders.
Here even the clouds bleed.

NOTE: Mr. Rawi, one of the pioneers of Iraqi modern art,is also a curator and art scholar who founded four art museums in Baghdad. -MB

Marguerite Bouvard is the author of several books of poetry as well as books on human rights and one on grieving. Her latest, Healing, is available from the University Press of New England. She is a resident Scholar at Brandeis University’s Women's Studies' Research Center.