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stones of varying colors

Eicha: Tisha B’Av in Plague Time

It is summer still    blue sky
trees heavy with foliage

loud birds in the shrubbery
hiding from hawks

neglected towers collapsing
and the plagues of hatred

and addiction and despair
and the attack of the invisible  

against a temple here or there
white stone   gone dead

What am I to make of all this beauty
and all this sorrow   and fear

please just act like normal
like everything will be okay

please trust the system
say the system managers

and then a woman    nameless
stands up   shouting   in pain

watch out for the angels
they despise you

there they go flying over you
heading for the coast

coughing garbage
into the atmosphere

above you


Poet and critic Alicia Ostriker has published 17 volumes of poetry. Her latest collection, The Volcano and After: Selected and New Poems, 2002-2019, came out in 2020. She has been called “America’s most fiercely honest poet,” and was one of the first poets in America to publish poems on motherhood.