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Tuesday, April 28, 2015


by Susan Roney-O’Brien

A Buddha statue is surrounded by debris from a collapsed temple in the UNESCO world heritage site of Bhaktapur on April 26, 2015 in Bhaktapur, Nepal. Photograph: Omar Havana/Getty Images via The Guardian.

Blood screams, floods rice fields,
dyes water red. A woman shrieks,
cries out in an unfamiliar language.
From behind the wall
a man growls
deep in his throat.

Outside a dog barks, a child wails
as though there is no country
beyond sorrow.
Over the balustrade
potted roses bear dark thorns.
It is just past dawn.

The Kathmandu Kumari,
red-gowned, is now five-years old.
She twists her naga necklace,
conceals the rash spreading
over her chest, pulls
at her tight black topknot

and between the capital and Pokhara
near Bandipur, the earth
cracks open. A small hill temple
rattles and falls. The world
shudders as the epicenter
sends tremors roiling.

Shiva strides through Kathmandu,
levels Narayanhti, topples buildings
smashes bricks, bodies to the ground.
All over Nepal, red blood flows,
a color we all know and recognize
in this epoch of violence.

Susan Roney-O'Brien lives in Princeton, MA, has won the William and Kingman Page Poetry Book Award, been nominated for 5 Pushcart Prizes, been selected NEATE's Poet-of-the-Year, works with young writers to publish their books, and has published widely in literary magazines. She returned from a trip to Nepal last week.