Caledoniyya

Some Sunday Imtiaz Dharker

Rarely a fan of poetry, I find myself seeking out the greats online and indulging in a poetic status outbursts more frequently.

Until now, my sighs have been reserved for Mahmoud Darwish, Rumi, Hafez and Pablo Neruda: aside from this quartet, I have alternated between gasps of frustration and substantial eye-rolling.

But that will change and today marks it thusly, with a marvellously poignant poem by Imtiaz Dharker:

The Right Word

Outside the door,
lurking in the shadows,
is a terrorist.

Is that the wrong description?
Outside that door,
taking shelter in the shadows,
is a freedom fighter.

I haven’t got this right .
Outside, waiting in the shadows,
is a hostile militant.

Are words no more
than waving, wavering flags?
Outside your door,
watchful in the shadows,
is a guerrilla warrior.

God help me.
Outside, defying every shadow,
stands a martyr.
I saw his face.

No words can help me now.
Just outside the door,
lost in shadows,
is a child who looks like mine.

One word for you.
Outside my door,
his hand too steady,
his eyes too hard
is a boy who looks like your son, too.

I open the door.
Come in, I say.
Come in and eat with us.

The child steps in
and carefully, at my door,
takes off his shoes.

© Imtiaz Dharker 2007

The more it is read, the deeper it becomes – evoking child soldiers, perspectives (freedom fighter? Guerilla? Militant? Or just child?) and conflict.

In short, it is masterful.

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This entry was posted on August 7, 2011 by in Asia, Culture, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , .
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