BOSRA, SYRIA 2009     for A and E George Amabile 1 We’re standing in a light breeze, in a field of poppies, white and red, their heads nodding and tossing beside the collapsed walls, broken columns with lengthening shadows behind them, and the wide road, paved with stones, that steered ancient wheels and hobnailed sandals back to Rome. 2 Today we’ve climbed to the top row of the Roman Amphitheatre. From here you can see most of the town, the ruins of the Roman baths, and the square, slender minaret of the Al-Omari mosque. Hushed voices draw our attention down to the stage, where students on a field trip are whispering urgently to a girl with long black hair. She shakes her head, backs away. But when they continue to plead, she relents, and begins to sing, in Latin: Ave maria, gratia plena… and as her pure, full voice rises, carried by the flawless acoustics of tiered stone, we hear another voice behind us, a muezzin’s intense tenor chanting the mid-afternoon call to prayer.