I go through the motions of living, looking for food. We’ve been at war for—I don’t know how long. I don’t remember how The War started. I don’t remember why. I go through the motions, pretend I’m still alive, but I’m hollow and crumbling like the buildings around me. Once I was young and pretty; I loved and was loved. But it does no good to remember. There is only The War now. The bombing starts again, and I run for shelter. The instinct to live is strong. The barrage goes on all night. Boom, thud, crash. Boom, thud, crash, scream. As the sun peeks over the horizon, shyly as if wondering if it should stay, I crawl from my shelter. The bright glow illuminates the destruction of my world. I am a ghost in a city of ruins.
In the peace of dawn
rivulets flow, salty tears,
a sea of sorrow
coursing through ruins, blood-red
flowers float amidst rubble
I wake. A woman is treating my wounds. She takes my hand and leads me to others. There is food. There is water. I hear a sound, wonder what it is. A child’s giggle. Slowly—I’ve almost forgotten how—slowly, I smile.
Hope watered with tears
a seed nurtured with kindness
a hardened heart smiles
I didn’t want this poem to be of any particular time and place, but yesterday, I heard a story on NPR about a woman who is one of the “White Helmets” in Syria. I also thought of Fred Roger’s oft-repeated line “to look for the helpers.”