Emergency Room, Mount Sinai, New York City

they are bombing the city,
     wave upon wave of them,
night after night,
     and so we are huddled
below together, trying to sleep,
     mattresses, bodies everywhere

one man stays awake, sitting up,
     wearing a creased raincoat,
sketching in a small book;
     naked, his mother lies near him,
a gigantic big-breasted woman,
     a huge symmetrical hole in her belly

it is impossible down here, a hothouse,
     but we hear the rattling sounds,
harsher than thunder, so we are staying
     till the wars are ended
till the trees begin to leaf out again
     along the avenues,

till the pale man is young no more
     the cold poles stand restored,
the glaciers, the ice caps
     once again gleaming
like the flesh of prophets,
     and the immense mother mended

                                      for Mary my daughter,
                                     Mary my sister

Michael Dennis Browne graduated from the University of Iowa and has taught at Iowa, Columbia, Bennington, and the University of Minnesota, where he is now a professor emeritus. His most recent publications include Give Her the River (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004), Things I Can’t Tell You (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2005), and What the Poem Wants (Carnegie Mellon, 2008). His awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bush Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation, and he has twice won the Minnesota Book Award for poetry. A new collection of poems, The Voices, will be published by Carnegie Mellon in the fall of 2013.