October Poems - As published on TUCK


The Sibling You Can’t Have

Far away from where I stay,

There is a place I hear, called Idlib

Never been to. Never will.

Not a country on any bucket list.

A blood bath it could be, I heard them say,

Last stronghold left to fall, in a country going back to where it came from

Lives lost in between? Half a million or maybe more…

Close to a thousand children a year wilted away

A little closer to where I stay,

There are some cages with foil blankets to spare

Children snatched away, sleeping in fear

While confusion unfolds on whose cross it is to bear

Their fault they came, not everyone was in despair

Fair enough, and we have troubles of our own to elucidate

And we have reverted back anyway, except for a few who are left…

A small price to pay for a statement that needs to made

From a childhood now obscure almost

In a nation I have left behind,

Small faces show up some days

Against our car window, with wants so small yet so hard to find

Rohingya children pressed against bamboo poles –

Just a little way from there, in Bangladesh today

Their parents carrying their dying thin frames,

Images just a Google click away.

But right here, where I stay,

You come knocking on my door, every day.

With a question on life, or maybe death.

For every life to be sacred. To be offered a choice to live.

For unborns waiting a moral call, you believe your God would want it this way.

Or you come to me as my friend with gentle shoulder tap,

One is not enough, with a soft warning you say

So that I pro-create again before it’s too late.

I shut my eyes and feel it in my womb. A joy so deep, a desire so pure.

But then it’s gone, replaced by dread,

For there are children who are already here

Who need food, no air-strikes, a land to call home, a safe place to stay.

There is a new-born somewhere who will die tomorrow,

Having spent just a day, maybe hours in a forgotten room.

A box ticked off, he was born after-all,

You have moved on, to another unborn who can be saved.

I know of the little arms reaching out for an embrace,

Shuddering in bunkers as problems that are not ours.

I worry of the scars etching deep in minds too small,

They will live to tell the tales, they will grow up somewhere.

So I pull my child into my arms,

And talk of a sibling that I decide she can’t have.