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Tuesday, February 03, 2009


by Catherine Zickgraf

Below my window
the convicts parade.
And armed guards
push their charges along.

Thirty men shiver and
sway through the streets.
Their pace hesitates
toward the waiting square.

Their feet drag chains to
warn the children:
the wages of sin is death.

If you lie
with a woman who is not your wife
or unnaturally with another man
or you’ve murdered,
you threaten
our holy land.

In the center of Tehran
a crane is ready.
Its dusty tires
braced to lift each body.

The condemned arrive and
line the square.
Their hair hangs wet
underneath their noses.

A black-masked man
blindfolds a prisoner.
A woman wails,
and guns push her back.

The truck’s arm holds
a rope in its grip.
It’s ready.
It’s time. It’s time.

So rope around neck and
wrists behind back,
a body is lifted
three stories up.

The kicking legs lose
their dirty shoes
but the shirt is unwrinkled—
he mattered to someone,

To a faceless woman,
veiled in the crowd:
the fruit of her womb—
he mattered.

Catherine Zickgraf is a former northerner excited about growing her roots in the red Georgia clay. She intends to pursue her MFA in poetry next year. Her credits include a forthcoming poem in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s “Poetry and Medicine” section.