Thursday, May 26, 2016

Two hundred and three million

Two Hundred and three million
(the number of victims of genocide in the 20th Century)

Two hundred and three million
And our tears are turned to ash,
Scattered by dry winds.

There was a time they laughed,
Looked at the sky,
Tasted music in the wind,
And touched with love.
There was a time their stumbling tongues
Learned speech; their stumbling legs
Learned to walk, run, hop, skip,
To dance … to dance …
Till all the dancing stopped,
The walls went up,
The blade came down,
The shots spun through the dark:
Denied itself again.

Take up your tears,
Two hundred and three million
Have scarcely stirred the dust on barren graves,
The pitiless dust on barren, silent graves,
One drop for each is more than we can spare.
In a world gone mad with madness,
Who will dare
Name the unnameable,
Take up the mirror,
(The one that does not glow with rose-pink light,
Or Hollywood halos flashing)
To show our social garments of compassion
For the rude rags that deck our empty hearts.

Let the wind take up their cry.
Let the earth blench with shame to have covered such a burden.
Let the songbirds cease their songs.
Let the flowers hesitate to bloom
Let the angels of heaven stand in the places where we failed to.

Let there be light,
Remorseless light –
Blaze into our darkness
Till the excuses die upon our tongues.

“Any man’s death diminishes me”

We have hardened our hearts
Lest the knowledge break us.
We have turned away our faces
Lest we see they look like us.

We have clasped our hands behind our backs
Afraid of driving nails,
Afraid of life, afraid of human blood,
Afraid of being vulnerable like them.

I cannot pretend to walk
With the burning compassion of the angels.
It is easy not to care.

Two hundred and three million had no choice.

Two hundred and three million call my name.