THE LAST BATTLE
I used to know the names of all the birds
it was more than just words,
I felt their melodies in my soul
but now the land rises up like a fist
and we have all grown old.
The helicopter comes and we run
we run, like deer towards life
while behind there are eyes
that see only frayed cots
and death's warm rot.
And then he died, quietly,
wrapped in a blanket of gold foil
like some small sacrificial offering
to a cruel god
and we all cried-he was only five.
I used to know the songs of all the birds
but it's been so long since I heard
even the simplest one:
gone is the moon, gone is the sun,
we are all undone.
Karen reads "The Last Battle":
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Karen confesses: "I wrote 'The Last Battle' after I left Gaza while on assignment during the first Intifada. It was an event that had actually occurred which had been so upsetting that I had to bear witness with a poem. I wrote it as my plane took off from Tel Aviv heading back to America, and I began to weep as I looked out the window, overwhelmed with hopelessness and sadness."
KAREN PETERSEN, adventurer, photojournalist and writer, has traveled the world extensively, publishing both nationally and internationally in a variety of publications. Most recently, she was published in The Malpais Review and Antiphon. In 2015, she read "In Memory of W.B. Yeats" at the Yeats Festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is currently at work on Four Points on a Compass, a collection of her poems from overseas. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Classics from Vassar College and an M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.