It Was Something But Not Enough

“I feel my failure intensely
as if it were a vital organ”

–Jim Harrison, “Vows”

 

I couldn’t save them

all the children,

but I did what I could

hiding them under blankets,

sneaking them away in coffins

beneath the dead

who didn’t complain,

perhaps grateful for companionship.

I couldn’t save them–

all the children–

and those who lived,

but without parents,

family history erased

save for the ghosts

and the dirge they sing–

survivor’s guilt

they say now,

this feeling

that part of my heart is gone forever.

 

 

This is for Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, Day 3, basing poetry on quotations from Jim Harrison’s poetry.

 

 

 

 

 

Ghost in a City of Ruins: NaPoWriMo

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

Embed from Getty Images

 

This is Day 27, NaPoWriMo.   This haibun is for Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Poetry Challenge. The prompt words were “peace” and “tear.”

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.”