Near Karbala, I’m told to imagine the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, their walls coffined deep
beneath where we, in tanks, rattle through dust. Here, the dead are prepared to meet mourning
not by lovers or kin, but the constancy of sand moving under the Euphrates’ surface, its face
mirror to the living—fishermen joined to drag nets across hours and slow yards, until water,
confident of its work, yields a body scrubbed clean of bloom from bullet holes and shrapnel.
Three days home, a soldier is found tethered by belt leather to the freedom of his doorframe.
52 The Paris-American
Michael Loruss is a native Californian, a veteran of the United States Army, and an alumnus of Berea College, where he studied English literature. Currently, he is an MFA candidate in creative writing at Hollins University, and serves as assistant editor for The Hollins Critic. He is a coordinator for One Night Standing—a community reading series in Roanoke, Virginia—and is founding editor of DIALOGIST (a forthcoming quarterly journal of poetry and art), as well as assistant poetry editor for Impeachable literary journal. His work has recently been featured in Guernica, and is forthcoming in PANK, No. 8.