Monk Killed By Tractor In Bid To Dodge Police

It was dark; he’d been driving
with his lights out to baffle the cops
who had cordoned off the monastery
he and the excommunicated brothers
refused to give up. During the siege,

he’d tried by night to reach
the olive grove or the artichokes,
the terraces needing to be plowed.
Or maybe he’d meant to use the tractor
as a tank. It overturned, crushing him.

In a holy war about differences
between Archbishops and Popes, deriving
from the Great Schism, precipitated
by the Crusades, which couldn’t, in the end,
keep the Turks out of Constantinople,
he is only the most recent casualty.

Even Mehmet the Conqueror wept
when he saw how many had been killed
and the wholesale ruin of that beautiful city
his armies had sacked. At Hagia Sophia,
he dismounted then fell to his knees
and poured a handful of dirt over his turban.

--Paula Closson Buck, 2004

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