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.
But how do I explain the following to her?
353,000 children will be born today, while the ones here can’t be saved.
She and her Gun
We can’t ban guns, she says.
Holding onto something in her purse.
Or holding onto herself maybe,
As her lips tightly purse.
I have lost a son. A daughter too. She adds.
A sadness so soft – timid almost.
A sadness that’s not right to feel.
For they have told her, it will come with a high cost.
They will take away your rights. It will just start with the guns.
And it will not solve, nor will it be undone.
It’s like your right to breathe, they have whispered in her ears.
They, who she can’t name. But they, who will never be gone.
Lock the crazies up instead. Or use your gun.
They shout now in her ear,
Her fingers fidget as her legs start trembling,
Another shot. Right in her backyard.
She stares at the blood, her heart frozen with fear.
Sweat trickles down her cheeks.
We can’t ban guns, she says again.
The last shot hits her, as she speaks.