Sep 16, 2013

The Tailor of Al Hamdaniyah

Because he wore a suit and seemed
of high value and would name no terrorists,
knowing none, they stripped and hooded the old man,
the village tailor, and hung him by his wrists
from a mulberry tree that grew by the river.

The old man knew only thank you and please
in English which he said through the night
to the sound of the Tigris and the sound of the wind.

He hung from the tree, strange fruit, five days.
PiƱata man or Muslim ham, the Americans called him,
and burned his feet with their lighters 
when he seemed to sleep.

Five days it took for his brother to get word
and travel to Mosul and bring his release,
but by then the hands of the tailor had ripened.

His hands had changed, like the fruit of the tree,
from white to red to withered black and past saving.
They carried him to the clinic and cut them off.

Nine hundred dollars they issued him,

to which he said neither thank you nor please.