when on his quick road to hell
he detonated the bomb,
death strapped to his chest
like a medal for martyrs.
I was not there
when you offered prayers at the mosque,
did not hear the explosion,
did not sink into blackness,
did not wake to the horror,
did not see as you tried
to piece your children’s bodies together,
did not see you searching for limbs,
little body parts scattered
as if confetti of war.
I was not there;
your screams passed without hearing,
your pain without feeling,
I just didn’t know.
I was not there but have read of you,
now know of your story,
know your grief is enormous,
know you sink into sadness,
know you can’t afford surgery,
know that poverty steals you,
know you still pick glass from the soles of your feet.
I was not there but have read of you,
I am moved by your story.
I think of you, feel for you,
picture the horror in my mind.
The terrible truth is that although moved,
soon I will unconsciously filter you out.
My thoughts will become full of a new outrage,
a new disaster or petty things,
little petty things that don’t matter at all.
This is the scheme of things;
this is how we operate – to stay sane,
to not be constantly afraid… to have hope…
to deal with the next day and whatever it brings.
I wish you had this choice.
Sherry: I wish she had that choice, too, Anna. Thank you for writing this poem, sharing her story and moving our hearts. Telling Sima's story puts a human face on Afghanistan's suffering. Statistics on the evening news, and the endless array of suffering, can overwhelm us. Sima's story hits the heart.
Anna: Thank you so much for featuring my poem as poem of the week – I am honoured by your request.
Early last month I read Sima’s story at Human Rights Watch (https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/05/08/no-one-should-see-such-day) and it really got to me. I think it had such an impact as I was reading it, absorbing it, and it was not some brief ‘feature’ on a news broadcast. It was also Sima’s personal story that continued into her todays, her tomorrows, and of how it had affected her life, her family, and those around her.
I could also not forget the body parts she mentioned, and although her daughters were safe, realised that some of those body parts would be of children, and how utterly devastating that must have been for other mothers there, at the mosque, in the whole horror of that cruel event.
I do not want to forget her and others like her, so I decided to put my thoughts to paper, and it was something I would keep returning to, it was unfinished. Last week I visited Poets United to scroll back to find out what the Midweek Motif was and saw Susan’s prompt and everything fell into place. I realised I was attempting to portray Sima’s truth, and also attempting to hang on to her story, for the awful truth was that soon I would forget Sima, and I don’t want that, but in truth know I will…
Sherry: I am so glad you completed the poem. I know it will stay with me, as well. Sifting through body parts - no human being should ever have such a moment. This is a truth that needs telling, far and wide. Truly, war is incomprehensible to anyone who loves life.
Thank you so much for this very important poem, Anna. I think Human Rights Watch - and Sima herself - would appreciate reading it and knowing that you care.
Well, my friends, a difficult topic, not an easy read. But Truth, a truth we need to know. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you! Kep writing your poems. We'll keep featuring them!
I so remember this poem... and I'm so glad that I was given the opportunity to read it again... so devastating and terrible. But just like the first time i read it the way we do forget it and get on with our lives is the true luxury.ReplyDelete
Thank you again Sherry for featuring my words - I am truly honoured.ReplyDelete
I haven't yet sent my words to HRW and am pondering as to whether to do so or not. I think I might.
Anna, thank you for writing it, and for sharing it with us. I think Human Rights Watch would appreciate knowing that you care.ReplyDelete
A stunning and impactful piece, powerfully rendered. This IS poetry, at its finest, Anna. And - as you mention - Sherry: an important poem. Once again - I found the backstory so compelling. Thank you, Sherry, for shining a light on how great poetry comes to 'be'.ReplyDelete
I wish you had this choiceReplyDelete
They don't, given the injustice and horror they had been subjected to months and years running without any hope of a peaceful solution. Very powerful take, Anna!
I remember this poem, Anna... we so need poems that chronicle the horrors of war... wars for which no one seems to be held accountable. How do perpetrators sleep at night while mothers count body parts? Felt just as raw and helpless reading the poem again.. thanks Sherry for featuring this.ReplyDelete
It is important to tell these stories, and spread awareness - and to say we care. So many places in the world where atrocities are going on............I wonder, too, how the people ripping babies out of their mothers' arms down at the border these days in the U.S. go home to their children at night.............ReplyDelete
The graphic details here will not let any reader forget the horror story that's being written in Afghanistan every moment. Only two days ago in a huge explosion 19 of the minority people were killed.ReplyDelete
Thank you Anna for such powerful words woven into a fine poem. Thank you Sherry for the feature.
A great voice and interviewReplyDelete
Sherry thank you for sharing this amazing work...Anna your poem not only tells the truth of what is going on in these wars, but puts voice to the pain and keeps it alive so we cannot forget since forgetting is what allows hatred and war to continue. I will not forget this image...thank you Anna.ReplyDelete
"confetti of war"ReplyDelete
"little pretty things"
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Truth is powerful, and this very truthful poem is also very powerful – never more so than in that confronting last line. Thank you to Anna for writing this, and to Sherry for featuring it. It's one of the most necessary poems I ever read.ReplyDelete
I love that, Rosemary. Yes, "necessary poems". We must keep writing them, much as i wish we lived in a world where we didnt have to.ReplyDelete
Anna, this is an exceptional, EXCEPTIONAL poem. I am glad you told her story. I think you should DO something with this poem. Perhaps send it to Human Rights Watch and tell them how much it impacted you. There are so many individual stories out there. So many sad stories. You are right...we hear these stories, cry for a time over them, then filter them out as we move to another sad story. So so many. We have to continue to find ways to keep hope. It isn't easy. But even harder for her. I am just awed by this poem, Anna.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Sherry, for this wonderful and thoughtful feature.
This piece-so needed--so that we remember empathy--ReplyDelete
Anna is such an amazing writer, and she has written a beautiful and sad story. Thank you so much for featuring Anna in your post, Sherry!!ReplyDelete
You speak in the voice of so many of us who watch the news, who read the news, and are horrified. Thank you for that voice AnnaReplyDelete
Anna, thank you for voicing the horrors we see and feel daily, but cannot find the proper words. This is an important, powerful, and truthful poem. My heart felt felt torn like the idea of "confetti" you mention. Outstanding.ReplyDelete
Thank you for your kind comments everyone, and thanks again Sherry for featuring.ReplyDelete