1. A Juggler & Mime (1st c., A.D.)

I, Toreuma, famous for my many plays
and games, am buried in this earth
even before I reached the age of 20.
I spent my brief life happily.
Now—boring old age—I have managed
To escape your clutches!


2. A Citizen of Troy (1st c., A.D.)

“Troy, the land that made a famous wall, made me
and is joyful because now my name is bonded
to the origins of Rome. Now the urn holds me
in a narrow space and encloses my bones,
kept safe through the love of a son.
I was made rich by the juice
of the vine, for which you—Oh, wine,
doubly fruitful!—remain tied to me.”


3. Kritias (1st c., A.D.)

The parents, Lucius Attidius Kritias and Peregrina,
oversaw the making of this tomb for their sweet son,
Kritias, who lived 2 years, 7 months, 15 days,
and 5 hours and a half: “Oh, stranger, I protect
a young boy named Kritias, of 2 years and almost
8 months, but with the mind of an old man.
For this reason, he sets forth crying toward Hades.
Evil spirits cut his life short—like a storm
in the South cuts a tender plant.”


4. Geminia Agathe Mater (2nd c. AD)

“My name was Mater, but I wasn’t destined to become
a mother (living only 5 years, 7 months and 22 days.)
I enjoyed my life and was loved by everyone.
I had the face of a boy, not a girl—a sweet temper
and a pleasing, noble appearance, with red hair, short
on top and long behind.
–-Now all of you, offer me nice drinks.
Pray that the earth doesn’t weigh heavy on me. Don’t despair
too much, Faventius, who raised me and loved only me.
(My parents died before they could grieve for me
but I leave a sister behind saddened by my death.)
–Please, everyone, comfort my family! Remind them
of the lovely life I had. Pray that their pain
dwindle and their sadness diminish.

–Reader! If you wish to know my whole name,
Know that I was Geminia Agathe, who premature death
stole and brought at a tender age to Tartarus. This is all.
More cannot happen. All is foreseen.”


5. Shoeless in Gaza (2009)

“I prepared breakfast for them that day in the garden,”
said the mother, Ayda, 36. “They had tea, bread
and thyme. Lama wanted a second pita, but we all
teased her, saying, ‘Keep it for lunch.’
She told us, ‘Don’t worry, God will provide.’
She made us all laugh,” the mother said.

“I cleaned up after them and collected the garbage.
Ismael volunteered to dump it, but Hayya and Lama
joined him. The garbage can is in front of the house,
a five-minute walk away.
All of a sudden
I heard the news from a neighbor, and ran
barefoot to the hospital. A relative collected
the bodies of Lama and Hayya on a donkey cart.
The neighbors ran trying to save Ismael,
who was the only one breathing. They say
my kids flew 40 meters before hitting
the ground.”
–as spoken by Ayda Hamdan, 36, reported by Taghreed
El-Khodary, and re-assembled by Tom Cartelli


6. Valediction: Kabul, August 2021

As he pulled into the narrow street where he lived
with his three brothers and their families, the children,
seeing his white Corolla, ran outside to greet him.
Some clambered aboard in the street, others gathered
around as he pulled the car into the courtyard.
It was then that the drone struck.
The missile hit
the rear end of the Corolla, blowing out doors,
shattering windows, spraying shrapnel.
Mr. Ahmadi and the children were killed inside
his car, others fatally wounded indoors and out.

Samia, his daughter, was inside when she was
struck by the blast wave. “At first I thought it was
the Taliban. But the Americans themselves did it,”
Samia said. She staggered outside and saw
the bodies of her relatives: “I saw the whole scene.
There were burnt pieces of flesh everywhere.”

–edited transcription of report by Matthieu Akins, New York Times,
30 August 2021, assembled by Tom Cartelli