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Meditation

Najaf
Six feet under

August 26, 2004
iranian.com

A rebel cowers under a pockmarked headstone with his name on it, metaphorically of course, for it belongs to a fellow felled long ago by Saddam. Six feet under the dead stir as bullets rattle and shower their graves. The thud of boots upstairs, the shuffling and cursing remind the deceased that not even they can have peace in the new Iraq. Quite where Bush and Blair get it from is a wonder; perhaps another item in their Wal-Mart cart. It is better now than it was under Saddam, they repeat, as the living weave among the dead, both buried and not, to escape defeat. Blood stains a patch that belonged to a soul who had a name before its headstone was smashed. His identity forgotten, a corpse is strewn above him only not washed, if also rotten. No earth up there to contain his stench, though. No time for burial. Americans serve up death faster than burgers. A drive-in where orders are not taken, only given, and enough ketchup to drown a town - is anyone counting the dead anymore or was that just for when Saddam was in power? A cemetery drenched in blood is one where those interred are, for a change, better off than those who are not. Rites are not due to these dead any more than rights are to the living. This is the rule of the occupier. How baffled they must be wrapped in shrouds, locked in coffins to think the lives they left behind are being torn further apart above; the Old Town forced to age beyond its years as the world’s most powerful army assails a mosque sheltering a glutton of a mullah - useless but for feasting and fatwas - turned hero. (To escape a foreign thug people consult the local.) Another rocket drops into a home, a mini-ground zero. Boots thud upon plots, reviving earlobes for a spell so that the dead too can hear a hell they had not imagined.

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