POEM LXXVIII: “OSMAN I”

A six-year siege is hard on the eyes.
You spend so much time
standing and squinting through wavy summer air
and flurries of snow
trying to discern movements in, movements out.
New points of vulnerability.
(There are never any new points of vulnerability.)

It’s hard on the stomach, as well.
You eat the same food the soldiers eat,
because you have to set an example,
but soldiers eat extraordinary amounts of meat.
You long for oranges, and raisins, and tea.

A six-year siege is hard on the mind.
You go over and over and over it again.
How are they still alive?
Have our tacticians grown complacent?
Is there an end in sight?

Sometimes, you wonder if the city is even real.
Or just a shimmering mirage
against which you have been pitting all your energy for years.

So when it falls,
if indeed a mirage can really fall,
the news comes to you like the ending of a play;
a faint amusement, a sated curiosity,
before you rise and shuffle out into the night.

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