Judith Deem Dupree has published three books of poetry and Sky Mesa Journal, her first nonfiction book. She lives in Southern California and Colorado.
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Road Out of Aleppo
Watching the evening news
He stumbles along in broken gait, pale face frozen
in a blank stare, and all the long, long river of moving
bodies pass him by. Even the frail move faster,
framing him against their blur of anguish, like a film
that runs slow motion, etching one small
centerpiece against the screen of the unwilling eye.
Upon his back—as if coupled there, ribs fused to ribs—
rides an ancient man, more skeletal than fleshed,
skull rocking gently, rhythmically, arms crooked
absurdly over the hard-set slope of shoulders, hands
snatching at the brittle air. Thin-stick shanks
dangle loosely over the young man’s arms, bobbing
with the plunge and stagger of his legs—like
metronomes that pace the broken angle of each step.
And still they come, he comes—this strange, two-
headed creature all its own, with its four unseeing eyes,
its single haunted soul. Like a crab caught in an
unremitting tide—an awful metamorphosis, a horror
that we cannot look upon, nor speak of, nor forget.
Still he comes, inseparable, inexorable. The dying and
the young—a ghost that rides the shoulders of the world.